A Ugandan leader just called LGBT+ people ‘terrorists’

Ugandan Minister for Security General Elly Tumwine, appearing on NBS Morning Freeze on 3 October. (Screen capture via NBS TV/Twitter)

Uganda’s security minister has called LGBT+ people “terrorists” in an eviscerating attack against a presidential hopeful and his supporters.

The country’s current president, Yoweri Museveni, has ruled the African republic for decades but his government faces fervent opposition from the People Power, Our Power group.

Helmed by singer and presidential candidate Bobi Wine, the resistance movement aims to bring an end to Museveni’s administration as the 2021 elections loom in the distance.

On October 3, Ugandan Minister of Security Elly Tumwine spoke to NBS TV and openly slammed the movement, declaring it a “terrorist organisation” with links to cryptocurrency.

But the politician saved his most sharpest thorn for when he said the group “associates” with LGBT+ people, a damning statement in a country where being gay is punishable with life imprisonment.

Ugandan leader calls LGBT+ people “terrorists”.

“I want to warn the public that there is a threat to the world called the Red Movement [People Power],” he said on NBS TV Morning Freeze.

“It is a terrorist organisation.”

He continued: “It is associated with LGBT and cryptocurrency and things that want to break the established order of things.”

Tumwine’s message comes amid a violent crackdown in the landlocked country, where Museveni’s administration is stonewalling support for People Power.

Just this week, Ugandan’s military announced that any civilians caught wearing red berets–a symbol of People Power–will be punished with up to five years in prison.

Supporters are already pursuing legal action against the ban, local media reported this week.

Musician and opposition candidate Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine) during a press conference encouraging his People Power supporters to continue wearing their trademark red berets. (Sally Hayden/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, declared his intention to run for president in July.

A bold and outspoken critic of the president, Ugandan authorities were shaken by the news, who see the 37-year-old as a daunting threat to Museveni.

However, the opposition candidate was not always welcomed by Uganda’s LGBT+ population.

The singer once penned a song where he encouraged listeners to “burn all the batty man”, which led to calls for his UK tour to be cancelled.

The pop star-turned lawmaker has since softened in his stance.

A year before being elected into parliament in 2017, Wine began to meet with LGBT activists and stated he advocated for “peace and tolerance of different views” on Twitter.

Why are some Ugandan people against Yoweri Museveni?

Museveni’s government has ruled the county since 1986 in a three decades-long rule that has shot salvos of anti-queer legislation out.

Moreover, Museveni, 72, signed the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill in February 2014.

Yoweri Museveni, who has been president of Uganda since 1986. (RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images)

Yoweri Museveni, who has been president of Uganda since 1986. (RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images)

The law called for repeat offenders to be sentenced to 14 years in prison and to make it a criminal offence not to report someone for being gay.

However, the country’s Constitutional Court later struck down the bill, finding that the speaker of parliament acted illegally by moving ahead with a vote on the law despite at least three lawmakers objecting to a lack of quorum.

Museveni has previously claimed that oral sex is a Western invention that is “more terrible” than homosexuality.

LGBT+ Ugandans denounce security minister’s comparisons. 

Local LGBT+ advocates condemned Tumwine’s words.

“The LGBTIQ movement is not part of the terrorism group,” the Human Rights Defenders said in a Facebook statement.

“We are peaceful persons who preach peace, equality, human rights for all and love.”

While Frank Mugisha, a gay rights campaigner, tweeted: “LGBT Ugandans have suffered always at the center of every to blame.”

Change in Africa has been spotty and slow, according to activists, where pro-LGBT legislation goes vastly against the dominant current.

Earlier this year, two precedents were made in African courts.

Activists outside the High Court in Botswana on June 11. (Twitter)

In Botswana, LGBT+ campaigners packed courtrooms and cheered when the country’s High Court overturned laws that criminalised homosexuality.

Yet, just weeks before, the High Court of Kenya upheld those very laws, preserving the encoding of homophobia into its laws.

The two judicial judgments underscore the vast differences in Africa when it comes to LGBT+ people, where colonial histories and present day world-views often collide and clash.