Uganda’s President Museveni has warned that a new anti-homosexuality law could damage the country’s economy.
In an editorial for the New Vision newspaper published on Friday, Museveni wrote that lawmakers need to consider the impact on Uganda’s economy of passing a new version of the annulled legislation.
In August, the country’s Constitutional Court struck down the original Anti-Homosexuality Act on a technically. The act punished any form of same-sex contact – even mere kissing and caressing – with mandatory life imprisonment.
Homophobic MPs are now working to re-introduce the law, or a possibly similar version of the law, back into Parliament as soon as possible.
In his editorial, Museveni said that he signed the original law because he “supported the idea of punishing harshly those who lure minors into homosexuality.”
He added that, “We should also punish harshly those who engage in homosexual prostitution.”
Museveni further justified his signature by stating that, “Our scientists argued that all homosexuality was by nurture not nature. On the basis of that, I agreed to sign the bill, although some people still contest that understanding.”
He admitted that he “was also provoked into signing the bill by the arrogant approach of some foreign governments.”
The law’s enactment was condemned by most Western countries, many of which provide aid to Uganda. Some nations and even the World Bank cut back on financial aid, negatively impacting the country’s currency and health care system.
“It is about us deciding what is best for our country in the realm of foreign trade, which is such an important stimulus for growth and transformation that it has no equal,” Museveni wrote.
He warned about “the possibility of trade boycott by Western companies under the pressure of the homosexual lobbies in the West.”
“It is now an issue of a snake in a clay cooking pot. We want to kill the snake, but we do not want to break the pot. We want to protect our children from homosexuality, but we do not want to kill our trade opportunities. That now forces us to disassemble this whole issue,” said Museveni.
In March, the president told protestors in an anti-gay march in Kampala: “When you hear these Europeans saying they are going to cut aid … we don’t need aid in the first place. A country like Uganda is one of the richest on earth.”
Museveni has reportedly said that he would be more likely to support a new anti-homosexuality law that focuses on the “promotion” of homosexuality, such as the one passed in Russia last year, and not on the private acts of consenting adults.
Even without the Anti-Homosexuality Act in place, gay sex remains illegal in Uganda with penalties including life imprisonment.