Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has attacked parliament for passing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill and said gays are ‘abnormal’ but could be saved.
The bill, previously known as the ‘Kill the Gays Bill’ but with the death penalty now removed, was pushed through in a shock move in December.
Now Museveni has joined the critics of Speaker Rebecca Kadaga who was instrumental in forcing it through – even though some claimed not enough members of parliament (MPs) were present to make a quorum.
According to reports today (17 January) in Uganda’s Daily Monitor and not otherwise confirmed, he wrote an eight-page letter to Kadaga and MPs on 28 December.
In it he accused her and a ‘small group of our MPs’ of forcing through the bill even though he advised it should be delayed until the government had studied it in depth.
Kadaga has previously said Museveni had plenty of time to study the bill, which was widely publicized and debated over a number of years.
The president reportedly wrote: ‘Some elements, however, insisted and even without quorum of parliament, passed it.
‘How can you pass law without the quorum of parliament after it has been pointed out? What sort of parliament is this? How can parliament be the one to break the constitution and the law repeatedly?’
He went on to say homosexuals were ‘abnormal’.
But he added: ‘The question at the core of the debate of homosexuality is; what do we do with an abnormal person? Do we kill him/her? Do we imprison him/her? Or we do contain him/her?’
And he suggested some become gay for ‘mercenary reasons’ – and for this group, including many young people, it was possible to ‘rescue’ them.
He claimed lesbians may also fall in to homosexuality because of ‘sexual starvation’ when they fail to get married.
He suggested ‘rescuing’ gay and lesbian people is best done firstly through the economy – industrializing and improving the agriculture of Uganda.
Otherwise there would be fewer jobs and more motivation for students and youths to enter into homosexuality.
But he said he would support life in prison for anyone who lures young people into ‘these disgusting behaviors’.
Museveni had already said he wants to refer the bill to the National Resistance Movement, the country’s leading political organization.
In his letter he suggested the NRM would find what the Monitor refers to as a ‘scientifically correct’ solution to homosexuality.
However, this Daily Monitor report implies he has sent it back to parliament before bringing in before the NRM Caucus as he promised.
Other reports from Uganda indicate some NRM MPs have vowed to defy Museveni, who is also their party chairman, if he asks them to change their position on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The next full caucus is reportedly on 6 to 16 February.
Museveni can send the bill back to parliament twice before Kadaga would be forced to find a two-thirds majority to force it into law without his consent.
Further complicating matters, if parliament was found to have not had a proper quorum, it may be even this first refusal won’t eventually count to that number.
If it does become law the Anti-Homosexuality Bill punishes ‘aggravated homosexuality’ with life in prison.
If it becomes law it will also make it illegal to ‘promote’ homosexuality.
The Daily Monitor is usually considered one of the most reliable news sources in Uganda.