Uganda’s president rejects horrific anti-gay bill as it’s not extreme enough

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni

In a terrifying turn of events, Uganda’s anti-LGBTQ+ president Yoweri Museveni has sent the Anti-Homosexuality Bill back to parliament in an effort to render it even more draconian.

In its current form, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill would make it illegal to simply identify as LGBTQ+. Those found guilty could face up to 20 years in prison, while those convicted of “aggravated homosexuality” could be executed.

Museveni sent the bill back on Thursday (20 April) because it wasn’t harsh enough.

The government’s chief whip, Denis Hamson Obua, said President Museveni had agreed to sign the bill but it needed amendments to “facilitate the reinforcement and the strengthening of some provisions in line with our best practices”.

A meeting will be held on 25 April with members of parliament to make changes to the bill.

The legislation is just the latest effort to further criminalise and marginalise LGBTQ+ people in Uganda. An earlier act, colloquially referred to as the ‘Kill the Gays’ bill, was struck down by the constitutional court in 2014, although homosexuality remained criminalised. 

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Leading scientists around the world have pleaded with Museveni to veto the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, in response to the Uganda president’s call for an investigation into whether homosexuality was “nature vs nurture”.

Uganda president Yoweri Museveni, pictured.
Uganda president Yoweri Museveni called homosexuality “unnatural.” (Getty)

The Uganda president said: “The homosexuals are deviations from normal. Why? Is it by nature or nurture? We need to answer these questions. We need a medical opinion on that. We shall discuss it thoroughly.”

In an open letter, leading scientists and academics concluded that homosexuality is “normal and natural”.

“We cannot say this enough: homosexuality is a normal and natural variation of human sexuality. The science on this subject is crystal clear and we call on you [Museveni], in the strongest possible terms, to veto the bill in the name of science,” the letter read.

“We cannot think of one major scientific organisation which would argue against the idea homosexuality is not normal and natural.”

Criticism of the bill has been widespread, with White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre condemning it as “extreme”.

“It is one of the most extreme anti-LGBTQ+ laws in the world. Human rights are universal, no one should be attacked or imprisoned simply because of who they are and who they love,” she said.

Within the continent, criticism has been just as vocal. South African protesters have gathered outside the Ugandan embassy calling for the bill to be scrapped.

Opposition leader Julius Malema led the protest on 4 April, saying: “We are here to say to Uganda, as long as the LGBTQ+ community is not free in Uganda, we are not free.”