Faith Karimi of CNN International is reporting that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has refused to sign a bill that would punish certain homosexual acts with life in prison. Museveni’s shocking move was not made out of the desire to protect the civil rights of gays and lesbians or even benevolence; it was made because Museveni believes that gays and lesbians are ‘sick people who need help,’ his spokesman said.
The anti-gay legislation was initially proposed in 2009 where “aggravated homosexuality” would be punishable by death. This bill was tabled after European countries threatened to pull their aid from Uganda.
Karimi says that President Museveni refused to sign the bill because there was no quorum present and the president believes that homosexuals are ‘sick’ and that this behavior is not a priority for Uganda. Lawmakers wrote this policy because they believe that Western culture is influencing this ‘lifestyle’ in Uganda.
“According to Amnesty International, the bill’s definition of ‘aggravated homosexuality’ includes acts in which a person is infected with HIV, ‘serial offenders’ and sex with minors.
The bill also proposed years in prison for anyone who counsels or reaches out to gays and lesbians, a provision that would ensnare rights groups and others providing services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Homosexuality is illegal in most African countries, where sodomy laws were introduced during colonialism. In Uganda, homosexual acts are punishable by 14 years to life in prison, according to rights activists.
But lawmakers in the conservative nation sought tougher legislation, saying the influence of Western lifestyles risks destroying family units.”
The bill can become law if the President vetoes the bill twice. It then goes back to Parliament whose vote overrides the President’s veto.
Read more at CNN International.