The First Lady Ms Janet Museveni, was behind the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, US Ambassador to Uganda, Jerry Lanier, said in a leaked diplomatic cable.
The revelation was made by Senior Presidential Adviser John Nagenda, during a discussion with a US embassy political officer.
In Mr Lanier’s comments which were leaked on September 1, by whistleblower Wikileaks, Mr Nagenda is quoted to have told the US embassy that President Museveni is “quite intemperate” when it comes to homosexuality, but the First Lady, who he described as ‘a very extreme woman,’ “is ultimately behind the bill.”
Mr Nagenda further told the US government that the bill’s most vociferous public supporter, the ex-Ethics and Integrity Minister Nsaba Buturo, was responsible for a campaign of mass arrests - known by the Swahili term ‘panda gari’ - during the Obote II regime.
Mr Nagenda said Buturo is using the anti-homosexuality legislation to redefine himself and “will do anything in his power to be a populist.” He advised the US and other donors to refrain from publicly condemning the Bill as this fuels the anti-homosexual and anti-western rhetoric of the Bill’s proponents.
When contacted, Mr Nagenda agreed to the contents in the Wikileaks report saying it is a well representation of what he discussed with the US embassy political officer.
“There must be a word here and there which is inaccurate but the overall all spirit of what I said is well represented,” he said. “I had a conversation with the political officer who came to my house and we discussed issues about the homosexuality bill.”
The Bill was brought to Parliament on October 14, 2009 by Ndorwa West MP David Bahati as a private Members Bill and was aimed at criminalising the act of same sex relationships and also proposes a death penalty for people who have previous convictions, are HIV positive, or engage in sexual acts with people of the same sex or for adults who do so with those under 18 years of age.
On the advice of the ruling party lawyer, Mr Adolf Mwesige, Cabinet early this year threw out the anti-homosexuality Bill arguing that it was unnecessary because government has a number of laws criminalising homosexual activities.
But different confidential diplomatic briefings to Washington by both Ambassador Lanier and Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson show that President Museveni was persuaded by the US to oppose the Bill and this trickled to the Cabinet which hatched a plan to quietly shelve the Bill without agitating core members of the National Resistance Movement caucus.
“He assured the US delegation that nobody in Uganda would be executed for homosexual behaviour. Don’t push it, warned Museveni, “I’ll handle it,” a cable sent from the US Embassy in Addis Ababa in February 2010 quotes President Museveni’s stand on the anti-homosexuality Bill during a discussion with Mr Carson.
Mr Lanier is also quoted saying that the junior minister of Foreign Affairs Okello Oryem assured the Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero that Cabinet is working quietly to water-down or derail the legislation.