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Uganda’s anti-gay President abolishes age limit so he can rule for life

Nick Duffy January 3, 2018
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 11: President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda meets Prime Minister Theresa May during the London Conference on Somalia at Lancaster House on May 11, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Hannah McKay - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

(Getty)

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, 73, has abolished an age limit of 75 on the role of President.

Museveni became President of Uganda in 1986 and has continued his hardline rule for decades, clamping down on the LGBT community.

The leader signed a law to abolish term limits on the office of President back in 2005, and this week signed  law that also ends an age limit for the role – allowing him to continue indefinitely.

Museveni signed the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Act in February 2014.

The law called for repeat offenders to be sentenced to 14 years in prison and to make it a criminal offence not to report someone for being gay.

President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Though the Act was later struck down on procedural grounds by the country’s Constitutional Court, it still remains illegal to be gay in Uganda.

Under Museveni’s rule police have actively targeted the LGBT community.

In 2017, Pride in Uganda was also cancelled amid threats of arrest and physical violence, while just last month police raided an LGBT film festival.

Ugandan police also raided the ‘Mr. & Miss Pride Uganda’ LGBT event in 2016, arresting more than 20 people were arrested including prominent Ugandan activist Frank Mugisha.

In local media, officers claimed to have received a tip-off about a gay wedding.

President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni (Photo by Carl Court – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Police faced facing allegations of brutality as trans women say they had their female clothing and braids torn off, while there were also reports of violent conduct.

 

Edwin Sesange, an African LGBTI rights advocate, told PinkNews: “While some other African countries like Gambia and Zimbabwe might be starting to realize some hope for change after getting rid of anti-LGBTI presidents, sadly LGBTI Ugandans are busy tightening their belts for a long haul presidency with Yoweri Museveni.

“Many LGBT Ugandans have suffered and witnessed the introduction of a number of severe anti-LGBTI laws during his last 32 years of presidency.

“Some Ugandans have termed this law as ‘Life presidency law’, therefore to the LGBTI people this act takes away any ray of hope for change that they might have had.”

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni (Photo by GAEL GRILHOT/AFP/Getty Images)

Uganda previously passed a controversial new law, that could result in the closure of NGOs helping the country’s LGBT population.

The law vastly expands the powers of the government over charities and NGOs working in the country – giving officials the ability to approve, inspect, and dissolve all community groups and NGOs based on a number of criteria – as well as to impose harsh fines.

One clause would require charities to “not engage in any activity which is … contrary to the dignity of the people of Uganda”, which proponents fear could be used to clamp down on groups working to help LGBT people in Uganda.

It would also allow groups to be disbanded “where it is in the public interest to refuse to register the organisation, or … for any other reason that the Board may deem relevant”.

Maria Burnett of Human Rights Watch said: “Criminalizing behavior that is inherently legitimate guts the very essence of the right to freedom of association.

“The possibility of long prison terms for carrying out civic work without a permit should be scrapped, along with many other provisions.”

Museveni previously vowed to reject aid money that is contingent on respecting human rights of gay people.

He said: “Europeans are threatening us with aid because they see that we are lazy, what aid does Uganda need? In Uganda we grow two crops a year, in Europe they grow one crop.

“We don’t need aid in the first place, Uganda is one of the richest countries on Earth!”

He also warned there are “more terrible things” than homosexuality in Western culture, like oral sex.

He told the crowd: “Oral sex! The mouth is for eating, it’s not for that purpose.”

Signs at the rally read “Thank you for saving the future of Uganda” and “Obama, we want trade, not homosexuality”.

On another occasion, he said the only thing that Africans “do well” is “multiply and fill the Earth”, while not working hard to ensure productivity to feed all the continent’s people.

Mr Museveni said changing this balance would make the continent more self-sufficient.

“Uganda does not need aid,” he claimed of his own country. “Uganda is so rich, we should be the ones to give aid.

“The only thing we need from the world is trade, if they can buy our products. Aid becomes important only when people are asleep.”

Mr Museveni said it was “unreligious” to offer aid with strings attached.

“The President is a religious man, he sees aid which comes from religious organisations that then add demands over gay people to be unreligious, and he is right that we don’t need it,” said Tamale Mirundi, a spokesman for Mr Museveni.

“In his speech he made clear that Uganda can be self-reliant, and the aid cuts have woken us up and invigorated us. The President has always opposed aid, from the beginning.”

More: Africa, Gay, LGBT, Museveni, president, Uganda, Uganda, yoweri museveni

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