KAMPALA, Uganda — Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has blocked the controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill and has rebuked Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga for failure to follow parliamentary procedures by passing the law without a quorum, reported the Daily Monitor, the leading Ugandan newspaper.
The paper quoted from an eight-page letter Museveni sent to Kadaga on Dec. 28, 2013 — just one week after the bill’s passage — in which he described homosexuality as an abnormal condition, and wondered if it is a condition that can be cured
“Nature goes wrong in a minority of cases,” wrote Museveni. “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?”
The bill, first introduced in 2009, has garnered global condemnation and criticism for its harsh punishment which criminalizes sexual intercourse between same-sex partners. The legislation provides for a sentence of life imprisonment for anyone convicted of homosexuality, as well as punishment for those convicted of being supportive of LGBT people.
In its original form, the bill was widely referred as the “Kill the Gays Bill” for including the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” — consensual same-sex acts committed by “repeat offenders,” anyone who is in a position of power, is HIV-positive, or uses intoxicating agents i.e. alcohol in the process
Capital punishment was reportedly removed from the revised version passed by Parliament, although the current version has yet to be seen by the media.
In the letter, Museveni suggested “rescuing” gays and lesbians would best be done through the economy by industrializing and improving the agriculture of Uganda, otherwise fewer jobs would provide increased motivation among 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 added that women become lesbian for mercenary reasons, and that “there may be those that go into the practice because of ‘sexual starvation’ when they fail to get married.”
He also chastised Kadaga without having a quorum, and said that a “small group of MPs” forced the bill through Parliament even though he advised it should have been delayed until the government had studied it in depth.
“Some elements, however, insisted and even without quorum of Parliament, passed it,” Museveni wrote. “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?”
Ugandan LGBT activists had accused Parliament immediately after the bill’s passage in December of illegally passing the bill without having a quorum or properly posting the notice on the Parliamentarian agenda.
But Parliament spokesperson Helen Kawesa told the Monitor that several bills were passed between October and December last year, and with similar numbers in the House.
Museveni also wrote that he disagreed with the position of Western countries that homosexuality is an “alternative sexual orientation.”
“You cannot call an abnormality an alternative orientation. It could be that the Western societies, on account of random breeding, have generated many abnormal people,” he said.
Frank Mugisha, a prominent Ugandan gay rights activist, said Museveni’s characterization of gays “creates more hatred” in a country where discrimination against homosexuals is already rampant. He said there is “no celebration” over the president’s opposition to the bill.
Museveni’s rejection of the bill comes as some African countries are toughening anti-gay laws. In Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan on Jan. 7 signed a law making it illegal for gay people to even hold a meeting. The Nigerian law criminalizes gay marriage, homosexual clubs, associations and organizations, with penalties of up to 14 years in jail.