Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has expressed second thoughts over proposed anti-gay legislation, saying ‘the possibility of trade boycott’ could harshly impact the nation’s economic growth.
On Friday, in an editorial carried by a leading national daily, President Museveni said he supported a bill which would tackle the “promotion” of homosexuality to minors, but also said Uganda needed to take stock of its national interests before making a decision.
He wrote: “I supported the idea of punishing harshly those who lure minors into homosexuality. We should also punish harshly those who engage in homosexual prostitution.”
“Our scientists argued that all homosexuality was by nurture not nature. On the basis of that, I agreed to sign the bill, although some people still contest that understanding.”
However, he added, “it is about us deciding what is best for our country in the realm of foreign trade, which is such an important stimulus for growth and transformation that it has no equal.”
President Museveni said he feared “the possibility of trade boycott by Western companies under the pressure of the homosexual lobbies in the West.”
“It is now an issue of a snake in a clay cooking pot. We want to kill the snake, but we do not want to break the pot. We want to protect our children from homosexuality, but we do not want to kill our trade opportunities.
“That now forces us to disassemble this whole issue.”
In August, the country’s Constitutional Court struck down the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill which called for repeat offenders to be sentenced to 14 years in prison and made it a criminal offence not to report someone for being gay.
The new version of the law is likely to tackle the “promotion” of homosexuality, after President Yoweri Museveni reportedly asked for an amendment to avoid targeting “consenting homosexuals”.