Museveni wants to water down anti-gay law

Kampala - Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni wants to issue a watered-down version of a divisive anti-gay law, stripping out tough penalties for consenting adults, a ruling party lawmaker said on Tuesday.

The original version of the law passed in February punished gay sex with long prison terms and alarmed Western donors, some of whom withheld aid in protest. Uganda's constitutional court overturned it on a technicality this month.

"We agreed to come up with a new version that doesn't hurt our Western friends but also protects Ugandans", lawmaker Medard Bitekyerezo said.

Homosexuality remains taboo in many socially conservative African societies where some religious groups have branded it a corrupting Western import.


But governments seeking to criminalise gay sex have clashed with the more liberal attitudes from the Western governments they depend on for their aid. Donors finance about 20% of Uganda's annual budget.

Both the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party and the opposition vowed to re-introduce the law after the constitutional court ruled it had been passed without the presence of the required number of lawmakers in parliament.

Bitekyerezo said Museveni told an NRM meeting late on Monday he backed its return, in a limited form.

"He said he wants the law back in the house but now says if two consenting adults go into their room and decide to be stupid, let them be", Bitekyerezo said.

"What he said he doesn't want, and which we must even increase the penalties, is recruitment of children and exploiting financially vulnerable youths", he added.

The new law would penalise the promotion of homosexuality and the "recruitment" of children and economically vulnerable groups into gay sex, Bitekyerezo said.

Western donors and gay rights groups in Uganda were not immediately available for comment on the new proposal.

Legislation banning the "promotion" of homosexuality in Russia and other countries has been regularly condemned by activists.

Bitekyerezo said the meeting had appointed a committee headed by the country's Vice President Kiwanuka Ssekandi to come up with a new version of the law, without saying when it might come before parliament.

During the bill's signing in February, Museveni said homosexuality was emblematic of the West's "social imperialism" in Africa.

Gay rights activists say it was actually colonial western powers who first criminalised homosexuality in many parts of the continent.

- Reuters
Method 2014-08-12 04:41:50 PM
"Recruitment"...really? How do these people get into power? Too many stupid people in seats of power in this world. It's not a freakin choice! Get over yourselves!
Redphi 2014-08-12 05:18:52 PM
African syndrome- showerheads galore
Redphi 2014-08-12 05:20:34 PM
SA is beginning to show signs ,soon we'll follow suite
Sebenzile Sweetpayne Menziwa 2014-08-12 05:25:28 PM
The hunger pain is realy hitting hard on Museveni at first he said the Aid is the Problen but now he says they will ease so that they don,t hurt on thier western friends mxm Stupid in man indeed.
Tshepo Edmunds 2014-08-12 05:28:25 PM
if two consenting adults go into their room and decide to be stupid, let them be" well, most christians make it their business
Bento Maepa 2014-08-12 05:53:09 PM
There is nothing they can do but look the other way. Sometimes the WEST can be so cruel.
Enock 2014-08-12 06:08:19 PM
although im pro-choice i find the west to be the biggest hypocrites. our cultures are different, have we ever forced them to accept polygamy? no its actually a crime there so why force us to accept their view on sexual matters? ask them museveni