The former president of South Africa, Thabo MBeki, has criticised Uganda’s infamous anti-gay bill, saying it “doesn’t make sense” to intervene in people’s private lives.

Mr Mbeki was taking questions at the Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR) in Kampala when he was asked about the draft legislation and specifically what he would say to its sponsor, the Daily Monitor reports.

The bill, introduced by MP David Bahati in 2009, was designed to strengthen Uganda’s already-harsh laws against homosexuality but was indefinitely dropped by lawmakers.

In response to the question, Mbeki, who served as deputy President and President of South Africa following the abolition of apartheid, said: “I would say to the MP; sexual preferences are a private matter. I don’t think it is a matter of the state to intervene.”

“I mean what would you want? It doesn’t make sense at all. That is what I would say to the MP. What two consenting adults do is really not the matter of law.”

Bahati said in response: “His excellency needs to read the bill and understand the spirit in which it was brought and the context in which we are talking about.”

Clauses called for the death penalty for “aggravated” homosexuality, the offence of continuing to commit gay acts after one conviction. Those who fail to report gay incidents to police would be jailed.

The bill received worldwide condemnation from countries, gay rights campaigners and human rights groups.

It languished after failing to be debated in early 2011, but was set to be revisited in the current legislative session.