In a statement issued yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa said the government does not support the promotion of homosexuality “just like we cannot promote prostitution.”
The government’s position on homosexuality will not change despite growing international opposition to Ndorwa West MP David Bahati’s anti-gay Bill, a minister has said. In a statement issued yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa said the government does not support the promotion of homosexuality “just like we cannot promote prostitution.”
“It is a fact that if there are any homosexuals in Uganda, they are a minority. The majority of Africans and indeed Ugandans abhor this practice. It is therefore not correct to allow this minority to provoke the majority by promoting homosexuality,” said Mr Kutesa.
However, the official stance was that the government had not yet reached a position on Bahati’s Private Member’s Bill. Information minister and government spokesperson Kabakumba Masiko could not comment yesterday, saying she was in a meeting. Mr Kutesa’s remarks come hardly a week after US President Barack Obama issued a statement strongly opposing the Bill, that seeks to criminalise homosexuality and prescribes the death penalty in some cases.
Mr Obama said the legislation “seeks to move against the tide of history”. The Canadian and British governments have also condemned the proposed law while Sweden has threatened to cut assistance. Other people to who have voiced their opposition include US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Anglican Church leader Rowan Williams.
Mr Bahati Bill, currently before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, is yet to start public hearings. The proposed law, if passed in its current shape, would punish those who fail to report homosexuals to the authorities.
Mr Bahati denies being in a hate campaign, saying his goal is “to protect the heterosexual family”. “It is under threat. Anybody who says it is minor underestimates the damage being done,” he said in a recent interview.
Mr Kutesa yesterday said: “I wish to point out that it is Mr Bahati’s democratic right to introduce a private member’s bill and to that extent government cannot be seen to interfere with his rights as an MP. It is inconsistent to promote gay rights and at the same time demand that the right of an MP to legislate be interfered with.” He added: “As to the contents of the Bill, the government is aware that the Uganda Penal Code already provides against homosexuality and it may, therefore, not be necessary to have another law to further criminalise it.” Forum for Democratic Change spokesman Wafula Oguttu described the Bill as a government strategy to bring down the opposition.
Mr Oguttu said the Bill seeks to promote political interests of the ruling government and not to defend human rights.
Last week, Mr Bahati said he had received threats from anonymous gay sympathisers through calls from unknown people telling him to withdraw the Bill or face the consequences. Solomon Gafabusa Iguru, the Omukama of Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom, has publicly supported the Bill, arguing that the practice is immoral and against African traditional norms.The Omukama, who is a known critic of colonialism, accused the West for introducing homosexuality in Uganda.