The President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni has defended his decision to sign into law a bill which toughens punishments for gay people in the country, quoting a “scientific” study which calls homosexuality an “abnormal behaviour.”

In December, Uganda’s Parliament passed legislation to toughen the punishment for same-sex sexual activity, including life imprisonment for ‘repeat offenders’.

According to the Ugandan news website Chimp Reports, Museveni addressed a cheering crowd at a National Resistance Movement (NRM) retreat on Friday about his choice to sign the bill into law.

He said: “In my role as a strategist and a responsible leader for our country, there is no debate regarding the promotion of homosexuality.

“Anybody who is promoting homosexuality we must stop him… this must be stopped by law and harshly. Secondly I do not accept those who become homosexuals for mercenary reasons, thirdly, I cannot accept exhibitionalism of homosexual behaviour that must be stopped and stopped harshly.”

Previously, President Yoweri Museveni said he would only sign the bill into law if he had proof that gay people are ‘made’ and ‘not born’ into their sexuality.

However, he now believes a recent scientific report has provided him the proof he needs.

He added: “What is important for us is the authoritative statement of those who are charged with the medical affairs of Uganda at this time because they are the ones who are historically responsible. The question I put to them was, are there people born like this? Now they are saying they are no such people.

“And if they put it in writing… because this is a historical document…that the one who was running Uganda at that time got worried, asked the experts what did they say about this and this is what they said….then my work is finished.”

The release of the conclusions from several scientists can be viewed publicly here.

One of the observations says: “Homosexuality is not a disease but merely an abnormal behavior which may be learned through experiences in life.”

The World Health Organisation, the British Psychological Society, the American Psychiatric Association have all criticised the paper’s conjectures, insisting sexuality is innate, not inherited.