Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has put off signing the anti-gay bill while he challenges American scientists to disprove that homosexuality is a choice.
A week ago Museveni had insisted that he would approve the legislation, prompting criticism from US president Barack Obama and former president Bill Clinton. The US warned that the move would “complicate” relations with Uganda, to which it gives more than $400m (£240m) in aid annually. Uganda dismissed the threat as blackmail but on Friday it emerged that Museveni had done a u-turn and would not sign the proposed law until after hearing from scientists. “I therefore encourage the US government to help us by working with our scientists to study whether, indeed, there are people who are born homosexual,” he wrote. “When that is proved, we can review this legislation.” But he added: “Africans do not seek to impose their views on anybody. We do not want anybody to impose their views on us. This very debate was provoked by western groups who come to our schools and try to recruit children into homosexuality.”
My guess is that Obama’s strong denouncement of the bill is working. For now. Ugandan Minister of Ethics Simon Lokodo is very unhappy.
“It is a social style of life that is acquired,” he said. “The point is they chose to be homosexual and are trying to recruit others. The commercialisation of homosexuality is unacceptable. If they were doing it in their own rooms we wouldn’t mind, but when they go for children, that’s not fair. They are beasts of the forest.” Lokodo condemned western meddling in Uganda’s domestic affairs. “When I heard the US saying they will cut aid, we said fine. Will they be comfortable if we come to America and started practising polygamy? Homosexuality is strange to us and polygamy is strange to you. We have divergent views. When they call me wrong, I will call them wrong. Don’t bring it to Africa; keep it there.”
Last week Lokodo declared that Uganda shows tolerance to gay people by “not slaughtering them.”