Activist: Most Ugandans support anti-gay bill but the government is worried about losing aid

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

When the Speaker of Uganda’s Parliament promised to pass the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill as a “Christmas gift” late last year, the world held its breath. But since then, Rebecca Kadaga has been largely quiet with her threats.

The bill was first introduced in 2009 by MP David Bahati, but has yet to gain parliamentary approval.

It specifies long jail sentences for those convicted of same-sex sexual acts and in certain cases has suggested the death penalty.

Ugandan gay rights campaigner Marvin Kibuuka told that one possible reason for Ms Kadaga’s lower profile in 2013 is because she has faced criticism from some within Uganda’s government who are concerned the bill poses a threat to international aid donations.

Mr Kibuuka said: “When the speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, went to Canada in October 2012 and came back to Uganda everybody thought she was going to pass the bill at the time, but at the same time the government was trying to draft the budget for the forthcoming year.

Mr Kibuuka added: “the government didn’t want to lose out.”

But he also warned that the majority of people in Uganda want the bill to pass regardless and don’t care about the threat of losing international aid.

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni appears reluctant to sign the bill into law over concerns about aid implications, yet Mr Kibuuka believes he supports the spirit of the legislation.

He said: “Uganda gets a lot of money from America to have troops stationed in Somalia and Mr Museveni doesn’t want to lose that money but at the same time there is an election coming up and he gets a lot of support over the issue. There’s a lot in balance and he’s having to measure these things up.”

In June Mr Museveni accused European countries of trying to promote homosexuality and sexual liberalisation and said gay people can be viewed as “deviants”.

Last December, Mr Museveni said gay people should not be killed or persecuted, but added: “We cannot accept promotion of homosexuality as if it is a good thing.”

In an appeal for solidarity with Uganda’s LGBT community, Mr Kibuuka said: “I believe that our struggle is just a small reflection of the entire LGBTI community’s everyday apprehension.

“Let us change the perception of the masses out there who claim that one can choose to be LGBTI, for if we don’t fight for our rights, no one will ever after all, we are viewed as the minority.

“Being gay should not be seen as a crime nor a curse. We are all human beings just like any other but with a different sexual orientation which is not a preference but rather down to how we were born. You either born gay or not! As simple as that.”