KAMPALA, Uganda — Uganda’s government on Tuesday dismissed calls by U.S. President Barack Obama not to sign an anti-homosexuality law, saying it was determined to protect the country’s “morals” even if that meant losing international aid.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has said he would sign into law a controversial bill that will see homosexuals jailed for life, despite warnings from key allies including the United States, reported AFP.
“We shall not care losing the financial support from our partners if only we are left alone,” Minister for Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo told reporters, saying Ugandans would rather “die poor than live in an immoral nation.”
On Sunday, Obama warned that if Museveni signed the bill, it would “complicate” United States relations with Uganda and be a “step backward for all Ugandans.”
A senior Obama administration official said the U.S. – a major aid donor sending more than $400 million a year – would review its relations with Uganda, seen as a key regional ally in the fight against Islamic extremism in Somalia.
Museveni said last month he would sign the bill only on the condition that he receives scientific proof that gays are made and not born.
But another presidential spokesman said Monday that Muzeveni had decided to support the bill after seeking advice from a team of “medical experts” and scientists in Uganda who reported that “there is no definitive gene responsible for homosexuality,” and that “homosexuality is not a disease but merely an abnormal behavior” that needed to be banned.
The Anti-Homosexuality 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.
Officials also said Tuesday that Museveni has already signed into law anti-pornography and dress code legislation which outlaws “provocative” clothing, bans scantily-clad performers from Ugandan television and closely monitors what individuals watch on the internet.
“For donors to say they will not give us aid because of the anti-homosexuality bill and the anti-porno law, that is blackmail and unacceptable, they can rather stay with their aid,” said Lokodo.
“If tomorrow, the president signs the anti-homosexuality bill and the outside world say they are not coming to Uganda, let them remain there, we don’t care.”