Uganda president playing both sides on anti-gay law

Only President Yoweri Museveni stands in the way of draconian anti-LGBTI bill becoming law. He appears to want to win domestic support without alienating international opinion

Uganda president playing both sides on anti-gay law
01 January 2014

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni wants to emerge as a domestic hero and appease angry foreign governments in the battle over the country’s new anti-gay legislation.

Parliament passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in a shock move on 20 December – now all it needs is Museveni’s signature to become law.

While the death penalty has been dropped in what was previously dubbed the ‘Kill the Gays Bill’, it punishes ‘aggravated homosexuality’ with life in prison.

If it becomes law it will make it illegal to ‘promote’ homosexuality and will also jail people who do not report homosexual activities to the police.

But Museveni has now indicated he will study the bill carefully before signing and is taking it to the caucus of his National Resistance Movement, the country’s leading political organization.

Uganda’s New Vision reports him as saying: ‘I like thinking before acting. It is not a simple matter to rush into. If the MPs bring the bill to me, I will first analyze it, take it to the NRM Caucus and see how to handle it.’

Museveni faces three choices: He can sign the bill, making it law immediately. He can reject it, pushing it back to parliament. Or he can recommend parliament changes it.

Frank Mugisha, director of leading LGBTI organization Sexual Minorities Uganda, told GSN: ‘If he doesn’t sign it they don’t vote it through again. It becomes law automatically. He has to send it back with recommendations or reject it.’

He added there is no schedule for the NRM Caucus to meet as they can do so at short notice.

Mugisha added: ‘In my own intuition I think he is going to send it back with recommendations. That is the only thing I can say now.’

Ugandan activist Edwin Sesange, director of the African LGBTI Out and Proud Diamond Group, says Museveni appears to be stalling.

Parliament’s Speaker Rebecca Kadaga has already indicated Museveni is playing politics, saying he doesn’t need to consult now as he had plenty of time to consult while the bill was being debated.

Sesange believes the president is trying to appease the international community by his tactics – if he delays long enough he can claim the bill was forced through by parliament while also gaining domestic popularity for it becoming law.

He said: ‘I think he is going to play some politics here. He is going to send it back to the parliament.

‘Museveni will say to the international community that he didn’t support it but he was overpowered by the parliament. Again to the local people, he will say democracy reigned over him and he respects it.

‘He is coming out as the winner here with answers for both sides.’

Sesange added the legislation is ‘also a distraction to other political, economical and social problems in Uganda’ in the run up to elections.

If the activists are right, it means the bill is likely to become law.

The next option to fight it will be through a constitutional challenge in Uganda’s courts – however winning a case like that could take years, during which the law will be in place.

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available

John Travolta's accusers hire Gloria Allred

Former attorney for two male masseurs accuses the famed lawyer of stealing his clients
No thumbnail available

Activists' fury at US anti-sodomy laws

Gay rights campaigners in Kansas are angry the US state still has anti-gay sex laws on the books.
No thumbnail available

PR firm hired to promote Indiana as a good place to do business

Following the passing of its controversial religious freedom law, Indiana is spending $2million+ with a PR firm in an attempt to repair its image
No thumbnail available

Why was gay, black, Mississippi mayor hopeful Marco Millian murdered?

The horrific death of gay mayor hopeful Marco McMillian sparked fears hate may have motivated his murder. Now more evidence has emerged
No thumbnail available

At attorney general's request, same-sex marriages in Indiana halted by appeals court

But Lambda Legal vows that 'Greg Zoeller will not have the last word, justice will'
No thumbnail available

UN chief tells world: Scrap your anti-gay laws

Ban Ki-moon speech delivered at The Hague as part of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO)
No thumbnail available

Bisexual actress Michelle Rodriguez locks lips with Zac Efron during Italian vacation

Paparazzi photos have sparked rumors of romance between the two film stars
No thumbnail available

REVIEW – Broms restaurant, Stockholm

The perfect neighbourhood restaurant in the capital of Sweden
No thumbnail available

Singing a path to equality: Securing LGBT rights around the globe

Dr Purna Sen, new chair of the Kaleidoscope Trust explains how the organization supports LGBT activists around the world so they can win rights for us all
No thumbnail available

WIN: a trip for two to Vienna for the Eurovision Song Contest with the Gay Star Travel Expo – details revealed...

To be in with a chance of winning, register your attendance at the Expo (taking place at London's Heaven nightclub on 17 Jan)