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Africa

Desmond Tutu urges Uganda president to reject anti-gay bill

Sunday, February 23, 2014
Schalk van Zuydam, APDesmond Tutu.

Schalk van Zuydam, AP
Desmond Tutu.

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Sunday made an impassioned plea to Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni not to sign into law a harsh Anti-Homosexuality Bill that calls for a life sentence for some same-sex relations.

Tutu, a Nobel peace prize winner, said in a statement that Museveni a month ago had pledged not to allow the anti-gay legislation to become law in Uganda. But last week Museveni said he had reconsidered and would consult scientists on whether homosexuality is determined by genetics or by a person’s choice.

Tutu said he is “disheartened” by Museveni’s new position because there is “no scientific basis or genetic rationale for love … There is no scientific justification for prejudice and discrimination, ever.”

Tutu urged Museveni to strengthen Uganda’s “culture of human rights and justice.”

Uganda’s controversial anti-gay bill was passed by the country’s parliament in December. It must b e signed by Museveni to become law.

Originally the bill called for the death penalty for some homosexual acts but the maximum penalty was changed to life imprisonment for repeat offenders. The penalty for first time offenders is 14 years in jail.

Homosexual acts are already illegal in Uganda according to a law that dates back to British colonial rule. The new legislation has much tougher penalties, such as jail sentences for conducting a same-sex marriage or failing to report to police someone who has gay sex.

Tutu said human beings are diverse and this requires tolerance, compassion and respect for one another.

Tutu called on Museveni to change course and instead concentrate on legislation against rape and sex with children. Tutu said that would provide more protection for children and families than criminalizing “acts of love between consenting adults.”

In a statement released on Friday, Museveni said Uganda’s scientists had reviewed studies a nd agreed that no single gene could be identified as a trigger for homosexuality. They suggested it is learned behavior that could be unlearned. Museveni said he asked the scientists if it was possible that a combination of genes could be responsible. If the scientists report back that they can find no genetic determination for homosexual behavior, Museveni said he would sign the bill into law.

Museveni said he is open to debate about homosexuality and he encouraged “the U.S. government to help us by working with our scientists to study whether, indeed, there are people who are born homosexual. When that is proved, we can review this legislation.”

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38 more reader comments:

  1. Good old Desmond

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 5:10pm
  2. This man is obviously gay. A straight man couldn’t rock hot pink that well

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 5:13pm
  3. Wow, that's quite the bigoted comment!

    Replied on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 5:22pm
  4. She's Being SARCASTIC, Jesus

    Replied on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 5:25pm
  5. Bigoted comment indeed.

    Replied on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 5:26pm
  6. Bigoted or not, there really no place for comments like that. Might as well throw Gasoline on that fire and enjoy the warmth...

    Replied on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 5:30pm
  7. You guys are way to sensitive. She was obviously just making a joke, god damn. You take offence to the silliest things.

    Replied on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 5:36pm
  8. Great Mr. Desmond, but I fear your urging will fall on deaf ears as that so called president obviously has no true God in his pitiful soul!

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 5:14pm
  9. Proudly South African ! Nail the BIGOT Desmond !!!

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 5:17pm
  10. Awesome for him to stand up and say don’t approve the bill we need everyone to realize that’s not going to help anyone only cause more pain and strife!

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 5:18pm
  11. Ouch my feelings are hurt lol say it to my face!

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 5:22pm
  12. Oh my god you people have no sense of humor. I’m a fucking lesbian bigot then I guess. Shit. You caught me. Butthurt motherfuckers

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 5:25pm
  13. You know it's hard enough as it is... Why do you add to it?

    Replied on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 5:32pm
  14. Thank you Mr. Desmond – Speaking out is powerful and encourages others to speak out against this harsh ugly bill.

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 5:26pm
  15. Thank you Kevin Purfield. Glad someone has a sense of humor lol

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 5:26pm
  16. Mary Conway

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 5:27pm
  17. Yall throw the word bigot around like it going out of style. Whatever makes you feel better. why don’t you all start caring about something that really matters. Like what’s going on in the Ukraine and Venezuela. Instead of worrying about an anti gay bill we should be worried about people being murdered by their beloved goverments. Eat a dick Rose Anne

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 5:28pm
  18. That’s exactly right. I’m a lesbian that doesn’t give 2 shits if I can marry a woman one day, I think goverments that are “fucked” are definitely more important of an issue than gay rights. Because when shit hits the fan no one is gonna give a fuck about human rights in the first place so I’m sure gay rights will be no where in sight. Typical reaction from someone who has their head up their ass. Stay asleep, it’s cool. You’ll be one of the first to go I’m sure :)

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 5:35pm
  19. It made my day to know that i got all your panties in a wad. I hope it offended the shit out of each and every one of you :) i bid you good day

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 5:36pm
  20. Wow. Congratulations, you're a pretty shitty person. I hope you weren't expecting to be one of the survivors if the shit really does hit the fan -- I suspect you'd discover that a history of being a total assmunch lends itself well to being one of the first killed off by neighbors who need to feed their children. The only way we're ever going to survive if it all goes down is as a society with mutual interdependency -- and "FUCK YOU LOLOLOL I MAKED YOU CRY WAH WAH LOL" is a great way of making sure you're NOT included in that societal web. Enjoy reaping what you sow.

    Replied on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 7:26pm
  21. But man people love and respect Desmond Tutu, and his support will matter! His heart is always in the right place!

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 5:36pm
  22. What is hard? Nothing about my life is hard.. being gay doesnt make my life difficult lol

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 5:37pm
  23. Nice….

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 5:54pm
  24. oh i hope he can chnage t peoples mind

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 5:54pm
  25. What is going on in Afrika? Too much Close-minded anger. That is not the feeling I got when I visited Kenya as a boy.

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 5:57pm
  26. Well fuck you old man rot in hell

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 6:00pm
  27. Big suprise but ya know with that get up he sure is supporting the gay community rather well i must say lol

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 6:03pm
  28. It’s good to know that there’s still a light in all that darkness in Uganda.

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 6:05pm
  29. I love that little guy.

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 6:21pm
  30. Thank you <3

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 6:21pm
  31. Desmond Tutu is perhaps the only Cardinal I believe to be a man of deep moral and ethical convictions IN SPITE of his faith!

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 6:29pm
  32. Four for you Tutu! You go Tutu!

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 6:31pm
  33. One of my life’s heroes

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 6:41pm
  34. If anyone knows how destructive hatred is it’s Desmond Tutu…. Can only hope the Ugandan president sees the “rainbow”

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 6:52pm
  35. it would be wise…and…a smart move, for every country within Africa to listen to one of the most intelligent, most learned, and most holy of Men in the World: he is…he is…very capable of healing Nations…all you need to do is listen…to Archbiship Desmond Tutu…and…and…and…sometimes WE THE PEOPLE of the World, have Living Saints with us…and…and…and…we are looking at one…

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 6:55pm
  36. It’s a huge reliefs to see people standing in solidarity with our fellow brothers and sisters across the globe.

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 7:28pm
  37. A true leader.

    Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 7:33pm