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Ugandan president signs anti-gay law

Netherlands suspends funding, Canada may sever ties too

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni initially refused to sign parliament’s new anti-gay bill, claiming he wanted scientific proof that sexuality is chosen, not inherent. Apparently satisfied, he signed the bill Feb 24. Credit: Ugandapicks.com

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed into law Feb 24 a bill that will punish repeated gay sex with up to life in prison, Agence France-Presse reports.

Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, but the law will increase sentences for “aggravated homosexuality,” including repeated offences and gay sex involving HIV-positive people.

In a meandering speech, Museveni decried unnatural sexuality, Western imperialism and cultural ills from poverty to prostitution. He had avoided signing the bill after it was passed in January, calling for more scientific review, but finally caved after the Ugandan Ministry of Health produced a report claiming that homosexuality was significantly caused by social factors.

“We Africans always keep our opinions to ourselves and never seek to impose our point of view on the others. If only they could let us alone,” he said as he signed the bill. “It seems the topic of homosexuals was provoked by the arrogant and careless Western groups that are fond of coming into our schools and recruiting young children into homosexuality and lesbianism, just as they carelessly handle other issues concerning Africa.”

Museveni went on to describe his confusion and disgust with homosexuality.

“I could not understand why a man could fail to be attracted to the beauties of a woman and, instead, be attracted to a fellow man,” he said. “I, therefore, thought that it would be wrong to punish somebody because of how he was created, disgusting though it may be to us.”

However, Museveni said, he eventually decided that gay people could be fixed.

“Can somebody be homosexual purely by nature without nurture? The answer is no,” he said. “No study has shown that. Since nurture is the main cause of homosexuality, then society can do something about it to discourage the trends. That is why I have agreed to sign the bill.”

In reaction to the law, the Netherlands immediately suspended judicial and police training aid to Uganda, which makes up 7 million euros of 23 million in total yearly aid.

The Obama administration also issued a statement saying it would “review” its relationship with Uganda.

The Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying that “this discriminatory law will serve as an impediment in our relationship with the Ugandan government.”