By: Danielle L. Gwozdz
Impunity Watch News Reporter, Africa
KAMPALA, Uganda – President Yoweri Museveni is asking the U.S. to advise Uganda’s scientists about homosexuality. The Ugandan President is currently considering whether to sign the law, which would increase punishments.
Museveni wants to discover whether people are born gay.
Museveni’s change of heart, which he was going to sign the Bill, seems to be due to the money the UK and United States gives to Uganda.
Homosexual acts are illegal in Uganda. The proposed legislation passed by parliament toughens the penalties, including imprisonment for certain acts.
Previously, Ugandan scientists had determined there was no gene for homosexuality.
“It was learned and could be unlearned,” Museveni said.
Shortly after Museveni announced he would sign the Bill, U.S. President Obama warned Museveni that enacting the bill would affect relations between the two nations. He described the proposal as an “affront and a danger to the gay community” in Uganda.
The hold will determine whether homosexuality could be triggered by genes and is not a “lifestyle choice.”
Homosexuality is also illegal in 37 African countries. Few Africans are openly gay because they fear imprisonment, violence, and loss of jobs.
Museveni made a statement on February 18 that he “want[s] . . . [the United States] to clarify whether a combination of genes can cause anybody to be a homosexual. Then my task will be finished and I will sign the bill.”
Museveni had originally refused to sign the Bill, saying it was wrong to punish people born “abnormal.”
Scientists, however, advised him that homosexuality was a behavioral choice. They told him that there was no gene for homosexuality but it was not an “abnormality” and it could be influenced by environmental factors.
The report said: “The practise needs regulation like any other human behaviour, especially to protect the vulnerable.”
The Bill was first introduced in 2009, with the death penalty as a sanction. This was scaled back to life in jail when the Parliament voted in December.
The Bill also proposed years in prison for anyone who counsels or reaches out to gays and lesbians, a provision that would ensnare rights groups and others providing services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
For more information, please visit:
BBC News – Uganda: Museveni ‘seeks US advice on homosexuality’ – 21 February 2014
The Huffington Post UK – Uganda’s Gay Laws Put On Hold As President Asks For Advice From Scientists – 23 February 2014
CNN – Ugandan President says he’s asked U.S. scientists for advice on homosexuality – 22 February 2014
Reuters – Antigay law put on hold in Uganda – 21 February 2013