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Social Issues
Uganda’s President Has Blocked His Country’s Controversial Anti-Gay Law
January 17, 2014
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Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni refused to approve an anti-gay law, even though he called homosexuals 'abnormal people.' (Photo:MEHDI TAAMALLAH/AFP/Getty Images)

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has refused to approve a bill passed last December by the country's parliament that would severely toughen laws against homosexuality, the BBC reports

Museveni wrote an eight-page letter to Uganda's parliamentary speaker in which he expressed his refusal to approve the law and also criticized the speaker for passing it in the first place without a quorum. Museveni's letter comes after an international outcry over the legislation, which would make homosexual acts punishable by life imprisonment. It would also criminalize promoting homosexuality and refusing to report gay people to the authorities.

Museveni's opposition to the law, however, does not mean he's supporting Uganda's gay community either. In his letter  Museveni refers to homosexuals as "abnormal people," Uganda's Daily Monitor newspaper reports. His criticism of the law stems from his belief that gay people can be "rescued" rather than imprisoned.

"Even with legislation, they will simply go underground and continue practicing [sic] homosexuality or lesbianism for mercenary reasons," Museveni writes.

According to the Globe and Mail, international protest against the anti-gay law, which included Richard Branson's call for a business boycott of the country, was likely a factor in Museveni's decision, since Uganda is heavily dependent on foreign aid. But a spokesperson for Museveni denied the connection in a statement to the AFP news agency. "The president's position has been the same for a long time," he said. "Nothing has changed." 

Last week, Nigeria passed a law banning gay marriage, same-sex relationships and membership in gay rights groups.

Despite today's development, Uganda's law is not necessarily dead. Even if Museveni refuses to sign the bill, parliament can still pass it with a two-thirds majority vote. According to the BBC, Museveni is currently trying to reach a compromise with MPs.

Via BBC News


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