Clerics praise Museveni for signing anti-gay law

President Museveni has been praised by the clergy for signing the Anti-Homosexuality Act into law. PHOTO | PPU

What you need to know:

  • Pastor Solomon Male, who describes himself as the “leader of crusade against homosexuality in Uganda”, broke ranks to proclaim legislation as a “blunder” that could boomerang in legalising gays.

Leaders of Uganda’s biggest religious denominations yesterday chorused support for President Museveni’s decision to sign the Anti-Homosexuality Act into law, saying it will safeguard indigenous cultures, morals and children.

“We are grateful the President has signed into law the Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2023 … The LGBTQI-affirming countries have shown us the negative consequences. We thank the President for not surrendering to their threats and for protecting Uganda from their paths of self-destruction,” Church of Uganda Archbishop Samuel Kaziimba noted in a statement.

The church, he said, was grateful because the new law reinforces provisions in the Penal Code Act which already criminalise “unnatural sex”, adding that it bolsters protection of children against being recruited or groomed into the vice.

Rev Fr Dr Pius Male, the chancellor of Kampala (Catholic) Archdiocese, told this newspaper by telephone last evening that the biblical teachings against homosexuality are clear and should not be compromised.

“Thanks that he (Museveni) has done it [signed the Act into law],” he said.

The Deputy Mufti of Uganda, Sheikh Muhammad Ali Waiswa, while welcoming the presidential assent said “of course, we are not segregating others, but we are doing it in the interest of guarding our traditional values and morals”. 

“We hope that the others will appreciate that this is a necessity for us and they should also respect our values and interests,” he added.

 Following hitherto unproven claims of rising recruitment of students into homosexuality, leaders of the different faiths egged on Parliament to pass a legislation against gays to replace a 2013 version that the Constitutional Court annulled on grounds that it was enacted without quorum.

Pro-gay groups and activists yesterday ran back to the same court, seeking to quash the new law, once news about the president’s assent to it became public.

However, Pastor Solomon Male, the head of Arising for Christ Ministries who described himself as the “leader of the crusade against homosexuality in Uganda”, last night broke ranks with other clergy to describe the legislation “a blunder”. 

His stance dovetails with that of London-based rights group, Amnesty International, whose Deputy Regional Director Flavia Mwongovya said legal criminalisation of sexual acts by consenting same-sex adults, represents a “desperately dark day” for rights of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI+) in Uganda.

“The signing of this deeply repressive law is a grave assault on human rights and the Constitution of Uganda and the regional and international human rights instruments to whichUganda is a party,” Mwongobya noted in a statement issued in London.

 Parliament enacted the anti-gay Act in March and President Museveni assented to it on May 26, although news about signing of the law was made public only yesterday.

“I am the leader of the crusade against anti-homosexuality, but I don’t support this law because it is going to make our work difficult, it doesn’t bring anything new to existing laws and it is not going to be implemented,” Pastor Male told this newspaper by telephone last night.

He said there is a risk that the Constitutional Court, which pro-gay groups petitioned yesterday to annul the law, might make pronouncements to legalise --- whether in full or in part – homosexuality as it happened in other countries without a creation by the Legislature. 

Pastor Male, who has had run-ins with the state for his vocal crusade against homosexuality and incrimination of some senior pastors, said the new legislation offends rights and freedoms, including protection against discrimination on the basis of sex, guaranteed under Articles 21 and 29 of the Constitution.

“The signing of that Act into law is a grave mistake because the law infringes on the right of privacy and figure of speech and encroaches on several articles of the Constitution,” Pastor Male said, “By defining homosexuality as sexual acts between same-sex persons, it means the law has isolated a person, identified the person and targeted the person which contravenes the provision of the Constitution on non-discrimination of citizens on the bases of sex, race [and other grounds].” 

He added: “My argument has always been that Uganda’s problem is not the lack of laws, but the system that is to deliver justice is rotten.”  

In yesterday’s statement, Archbishop Kaziimba noted that Church of Uganda supports life and on principle disagrees with the penalty of death sentence in the anti-gay law for the offence of aggravated homosexuality, defined in the text of the Anti-Homosexuality Act as same-sex sexual acts with minors or vulnerable persons or by a serial offender.   “We do not support the death penalty for those crimes and continue to recommend life imprisonment instead,” he noted.

Archbishop Kaziimba said homosexuality is a challenge in Uganda because it is being imposed on the country by outsiders and “against our culture and our religious beliefs” under the guise of human rights.