Ugandan pop star turned opposition leader is ‘insulted’ by claims he’s secretly gay
Bobi Wine, the leader of the Ugandan opposition, says he is “insulted” by claims that he is secretly gay ahead of the country’s general election.
As Ugandans head to the polls on Thursday (14 January), the 38-year-old pop star turned politician Wine will attempt to unseat long-running ruler Museveni, who’s been president of Uganda since 1986.
Wine has been dogged by rumours of homosexuality and reports that his campaign is funded by “homosexual groups” – a severe accusation in a country where LGBT+ people are criminalised and persecuted.
“I am married to a woman you all know, it is a shame, it is disrespectful and I feel insulted to be involved in the sex talk when we have few hours to elections,” he told a local television station, Nairobi News reported.
“Driving me to such talk is diversionary. I would rather use the time to talk about our plans for the people of this country, in the event we win the elections,” Bobi Wine continued.
“We are supported by Ugandans. Museveni can talk about whatever because he does not have anything else to tell Ugandans.”
Homosexuality became a major touchpoint in the east African country ahead of the election, which has been one of the most keenly watched and violent campaigns in a generation.
LGBT+ Ugandans say local politicians have been using anti-gay remarks to stir up hatred and win votes by making pledges to eradicate homosexuality in Uganda.
“These remarks and the generally tense atmosphere in the country has made me fearful to go out and vote,” one 32-year-old gay Ugandan, who declined to be named, told Reuters.
“We know when these politicians say anti-gay things, people come after us.”
Tensions have risen so much that the United Nations was forced to issue a call for LGBT+ Ugandans to be treated with respect and dignity, fearing that increased vilification could worsen violence and reduce access to HIV/AIDS treatment.
“Stigma and discrimination based on sexual orientation violates rights and keeps people away from HIV testing, treatment, prevention and care services.”
Polls closed at 4pm and the critical election results are expected within the next 48 hours.