President Museveni has called for doctors to explain why gay people are deviants (Photo: GODL-India)
As MPs lobby for the passing of a draconian new anti-LGBTIQ+ bill, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has described gay people as deviants in a presidential address to parliament.
Speaking on Thursday, Museveni asserted: “The homosexuals are deviations from normal. Why? Is it by nature or nurture? We need to answer these questions. We need a medical opinion on that. We shall discuss it thoroughly.”
He went on to criticise countries that have called for Uganda to decriminalise homosexuality and ensure that LGBTIQ+ people are afforded their human rights.
“Western countries should stop wasting the time of humanity by trying to impose their practices on other people,” Museveni said.
“Europeans and other groups marry cousins and near relatives. Here, marrying in one’s clan is taboo. Should we impose sanctions on them for marrying relatives? This is not our job,” he added.
Museveni recently returned from a high-profile visit to South Africa, where President Cyril Ramaphosa welcomed him with open arms. Ramaphosa also bestowed Museveni with the prestigious Order of South Africa.
Earlier this month, Uganda’s Parliament allowed MP Asuman Basalirwa to introduce a Private Member’s Bill titled the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023, which aims to clamp down on the already persecuted LGBTIQ+ community, and its supporters.
“It criminalises people simply for being who they are…”
If passed, the bill would punish anyone with ten years in prison if they have anal, oral or manual sex with a person of the same sex, or if they touch someone with the “intention” of having same-sex sex.
The same penalty will apply if anyone claims to be in a same-sex marriage, or if they openly identify as “lesbian, gay, transgender, a queer or any other sexual or gender identity that is contrary to the binary categories of male and female”.
Allies of the LGBTIQ+ community face five-year prison sentences as “accomplices” if they “fund” or “promote” homosexuality online or in films or provide premises for LGBTIQ+ people.
According to Human Rights Watch, the introduction of the bill follows months of hostile rhetoric against the LGBTIQ+ community by public figures in Uganda, as well as government crackdowns on LGBTIQ-rights groups, government critics, and civil society.
“One of the most extreme features of this new bill is that it criminalises people simply for being who they are as well as further infringing on the rights to privacy, and freedoms of expression and association that are already compromised in Uganda,” commented Oryem Nyeko, Uganda researcher at Human Rights Watch in a statement.
“Ugandan politicians should focus on passing laws that protect vulnerable minorities and affirm fundamental rights and stop targeting LGBT people for political capital,” said Nyeko.
Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda under colonial-era legislation that allows the state to punish those found guilty of “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” with life in prison.
Uganda’s Parliament passed a similar, less extreme, version of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in 2013. It was struck down the following year by Uganda’s Constitutional Court which ruled that it had been passed unprocedurally because there were insufficient lawmakers present during the vote.