President Museveni has reportedly assured American authorities that he will veto Ndorwa West MP David Bahati’s proposed anti-gay law, a position that breaks with his recent stance and the statements of officials in his government.
The online newspaper DC Agenda reported on December 19 that the Mr Museveni had assured the US State Department of his willingness to block the Bill, which has rattled foreign governments and rights activists.
“Jon Tollefson, a State Department spokesperson, told DC Agenda that Mr Museveni has pledged on several occasions to the top US diplomat engaged in Africa that he would stop progress on the anti-gay bill,” the newspaper reported.
“Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson received this assurance from Museveni on Oct. 24 during an in-person meeting with the president in Uganda and again during a phone conversation with Museveni on Dec. 4, Tollefson said.”
But Mr Museveni’s spokesman, Mr Tamale Mirundi, said yesterday he was not aware the President had spoken to Mr Carson. Without commenting on whether or not the President has changed his position on the matter, Mr Tamale said: “But if it was a discussion between two elders about a serious matter, then it should be kept private.”
Mr Museveni has not spoken out in support or against the proposed law, but has recently defended heterosexual relationships.
Mr Bahati’s Bill, which proposes death or life imprisonment for gay sex, was tabled in Parliament on October 14, but the furore over it became intense several weeks later.
According to DC Agenda, Mr Tollefson said when the Bill started gaining international attention, Mr Carson on Dec. 4 contacted Mr Museveni by phone “to reiterate US concerns, and the president again expressed his commitment to stop the Bill from becoming law”.
“So that being said, the assistant secretary is expecting the President to live up to that commitment and … he expects President Museveni to live up to his reputation as a leader in the HIV/AIDS struggle,” Mr Tollefson was quoted as saying.
Mr Bahati has claimed that the Bill is supported by the majority of Ugandans, while Ethics Minister Nsaba Buturo yesterday named three civil society organisations allegedly promoting homosexuality activities in Uganda. He said Sexual Minorities Uganda, Integrity Uganda and Gay Uganda had been given $20m to promote the practice.