Uganda President Yoweri Museveni is walking a political tightrope on the backs of LGBTQ Ugandans. In declaring that he will sign Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, Museveni seeks to solidify his crumbling political power while putting the blame for Uganda’s falling world-standing on President Obama and the United Nations.
After the international community appealed to President Museveni not to sign the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law–a law that will further criminalize homosexuality and outlaw advocacy for LGBTQ rights–Museveni announced on Valentine’s Day that he would indeed sign the bill, despite his earlier promise that he was seeking “scientific guidance” on the issue of homosexuality. The law was passed on December 20, 2013, by the Ugandan Parliament without the required quorum.
“Museveni is fighting to keep his political power,” says Political Research Associates’ senior religion and sexuality researcher, Rev. Dr. Kapya Kaoma, who has researched U.S. conservatives’ influence on African LGBTQ laws since 2008. “By signing the law, Museveni is strengthening his political base in Uganda among evangelical churches, while blaming the international community’s condemnation of the law for cuts to incoming foreign aid. Through this act, Museveni has declared war, and sanctioned the systematic persecution of sexual minorities. It is hell to live in Uganda as a gay person, and one wonders how life will be for LGBTQ persons after this bill becomes law.”
“This law deserves maximum condemnation by all people of goodwill. Our sexual orientation is not a crime. The world should not just stand by watching while more lives are lost because of this draconian law,” added Victor Mukasa, co-founder of Sexual Minorities Uganda and an associate fellow at Political Research Associates.
In his letter to Speaker Kadaga, President Museveni called LGBTQ Ugandans “abnormal,” and claimed that LGBTQ people are “recruited” into homosexuality for “mercenary reasons.” Museveni went on to say that many women are only lesbians because of “sexual starvation” when they fail to get married–a claim that is regularly used to justify the horrific (and well-documented) practice of “corrective rape.”
“Reading President Museveni’s letter was like hearing American religious conservatives with a Ugandan accent,” says Tarso Luís Ramos, executive director of Political Research Associates, the social justice think tank that originally revealed links between U.S. evangelicals and anti-LGBTQ laws in Africa. “These are the very same talking points used by Scott Lively, who is on trial here in the U.S. for conspiring with Ugandan pastors and members of Parliament to violate the human rights of that country’s LGBTQ community. When Museveni calls for ‘a scientifically correct’ position on homosexuality, he is echoing the pseudo-psychiatry of former Exodus International official Don Schmierer, Sharon Slater and Lou Engle, among other discredited American figures. I am not surprised that he sided with discredited positions on this subject.”
The American public and the global community must pay attention as President Museveni moves to sign this bill into law, and as similar legislation makes headway in Nigeria and Russia. “The rapid succession of these legislative attacks on LGBTQ people indicates the brush fire of globalized culture wars is continuing to spread across the world,” Ramos added. “Uganda, Nigeria, and Russia can no longer be seen as exceptional cases-other nations are soon to follow.”
Background on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, and how U.S. evangelicals came to be involved, can be found at www.politicalresearch.org/Africa