Yesterday, Uganda’s state department released some remarks from Yoweri Museveni with his rationale for signing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009.
President Museveni’s Remarks on decision to sign anti-homosexual bill at the closing ceremony of the 10-day retreat of the NRM Parliamentary Caucus, 16th February 2014
1. In that bill, I had no problem with punishing people who promote homosexuality.
2. I had no problem with punishing people who become homosexual for mercenary reasons what one would call homosexual prostitution. The man is not a homosexual, but he engages in homosexuality for money.
3. I had no problem with punishing exhibitionism of homosexuality.
The reason I had not signed the bill is to scientifically answer the question; are there people genetically born homosexual? For me, I had thought that since there were people born albino there could be people born homosexual.
But since the medical authorities, the department of genetics of the Medical School from Makerere, say there is no proof yet that people are homosexual by genetics, I told those scientists to put it in writing and they are going to do so. Then I will sign the bill.
Am taking all these precautions because am historically answerable for whatever I do as a leader. There were mistakes made in the 1930s by Hitler because he wanted to make Germany strong..Some of these issues are very crucial and should be handled objectively not emotionally.
I had not concentrated my mind on homosexuality all these years. I thought electricity, roads, were more urgent things. Moreover, I had never seen a homosexual.
When you insisted we sat down and discussed it and we have found a solution systematically.
I know we are going to have a big battle with outsiders, but I will be able to say I asked scientists and this is what they said. That homosexuals are normal people behaving abnormally.
These statements don’t line up squarely with the ministry of health report, but they are clear in the political strategy Museveni will use. He has passed the buck to the “scientists” to justify his actions. The editor of Uganda’s Observer believes Museveni’s decision was based in political trade:
The Observer Editor Richard M Kavuma believes the president may have been guided by political calculations. Because he was keen to win over MPs on key issues such as denying suspects bail on certain offences, Kavuma said, the president may have decided to sign the popular bill as a concession.
“But it is also true that some of the president’s people may challenge the legislation in court and given Uganda’s largely progressive Constitution, they may get the bill declared unconstitutional,” Kavuma said.
“That way the president comes out looking good to his anti-gay electorate, while the judges will take the flak from Uganda’s generally Christian conservative population.”
Kavuma added: “Because the law is likely to fail anyway, the president may have found the political cost of signing the bill to be much lower than that of maintaining his locally ‘anti-people’ stance. On the contrary, he will be praised across churches, shrines and mosques if he signs the bill.”
I think Kavuma is right about the courts. The law clearly violates Uganda’s constitution, and the courts will likely strike it down. However, much harm could come to innocent people before that happens.