Museveni agrees to sign anti-gays Bill

Sunday February 16 2014

By Yasiin Mugerwa


President Museveni on Friday told NRM legislators at Kyankwanzi that he would assent to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill passed by Parliament in December last year. The Bill seeks to make same-sex punishable by life imprisonment upon conviction.

President Museveni did not only agree to sign the Bill, he also warned that the promoters, exhibitionists and those who practice homosexuality for mercenary reasons “will not be tolerated” and “will be dealt with harshly”.

The President, who had earlier refused to assent to the Bill, changed his position after a group of 11 scientists from Ministry of Health and Makerere University, led by the director of planning and development at the ministry of Health, Dr Isaac Ezati (who represented Dr Ruth Achieng, the director general of health services), presented to him their findings on whether homosexual behaviour is genetic or not.

Presidential Advisor on Science Dr Richard Tushemereirwe told the president that homosexuality has serious public health consequences and should therefore not be tolerated.
A statement from the NRM Caucus Spokesperson Evelyn Anite reads: “The President made it clear that his work was done and that all he needed was for the scientists to sign the paper they presented since it would be a historical document forming basis for the signing of the Bill.”

Speaking after scientists presented their findings, the President, according to Information minister Rose Namayanja said if the scientists give him a signed copy of their presentation, he will do what he called “the historical job of signing the Bill” into law.

No further debates
After the President made his promise to sign the Bill, sources said the members moved a motion blocking further debate on the controversial Bill and immediately gave him a standing ovation, singing in Luganda: “Mzee Tajja Kugenda, Lwaki Agenda?” —loosely interpreted as “The old man (president Museveni) will not leave power, why should he?”

In a letter to Speaker Rebecca Kadaga dated December 28, 2013, Mr Museveni said it was the government’s job to “rescue” young people from being gay, and he accepted the premise that someone who lures a youth into “disgusting behaviour” should face life imprisonment.
However, initially he refused to sign the legislation on the basis that it was not properly passed in Parliament as there was no quorum.

External pressure
Government has faced pressure from the donor community to shelve the legislation, which was supported by radical Christian pastors and legislators. UK Prime Minister David Cameron and US president Barack Obama threatened to isolate Uganda if the Bill is passed into law.