Uganda Be Kidding Me: LGBTQ Rights Threatened in East African Nation

By ANDREW COGLIANO
Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

Life for LGBT community members in Uganda has become incredibly difficult in recent years, especially with the recent anti-gay legislation that was put into law by the Ugandan parliament. Ever since 2009, Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni has shown a general distaste towards the LGBT community, but on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014, Museveni signed the infamous Uganda Anti-Homsexuality Act into national law. This same bill was also known as the “Kill the Gays bill” due to the death penalty clause that the 2009 version held.

For weeks leading up to the signing, Museveni had a team of Ugandan scientists investigate whether or not homosexuality was “learned," or whether it was a cause of, in his own words, “genetic distortion.” He even turned to the United States for scientific information on the subject, but Dean Hamer, scientist emeritus at the National Institutes of Health, denied to share any. In an open letter published in the New York Times last week, Hamer urged the Ugandan team to reconsider their report, adding that “there is no scientific evidence that homsexual orientation is a learned behavior.”

The act has been amended since 2009, and does not contain the death penalty clause, instead offering life imprisonment for the crime of “aggravated homsexuality.” The new bill also punishes anyone who performs or attends a same-sex marriage and those who agree to counsel members of the LGBT community. Museveni, in an exclusive interview with CNN, was asked what he thought personally of homsexuals. He responded, “They’re disgusting. What kind of people are they?” Currently in Uganda, 96 percent of the nation believes that homosexuals shouldn’t be accepted by society, and many believe that homsexuals are to blame for the spread of HIV/AIDS in the continent of Africa. Museveni remarked that European and Western nations should “respect African societies and their values,” and that “if we are wrong, we shall find out by ourselves.”

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