In the nation's first live televised signing, President Yoweri Musevini signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The Bill had been passed by lawmakers late last year but not yet signed in by the president.
Musevini had been going back and forth as to whether he would sign the Bill. Initially saying homosexuals were ‘sick’ and needed help not imprisonment, and saying he would seek advice from US Scientists before signing anything.
He claimed the new legislation, however, was implemented because of Western meddling in Africa’s affairs. Musevini said “We don't impose ourselves on Western culture. We are sick of homosexuals exhibiting themselves. All Africans are flabbergasted by this exhibition of sexual conduct.”
In an interview with CNN on the same day, Museveni was asked if he personally disliked homosexuals, to which he replied “they are disgusting. What sort of people are they?”
The news was immediately condemned by governments and activists worldwide. Norway, Denmark and The Netherlands became the first countries to either redirect aid away from the Ugandan Government or freeze aid on Tuesday.
Both Canada and the US also said they were reviewing their aid and assistance programs in the country. US Secretary of State John Kerry said the new Bill “threatens a dangerous slide backward in Uganda’s commitment to protecting the human rights of its people and a serious threat to the LGBT community in Uganda”
Tuesday also saw a Ugandan tabloid newspaper run a front page article outing “Uganda’s 200 Top Homos.” The Red Pepper tabloid published the names in a front-page story under the headline: ‘EXPOSED!’
The list included prominent Ugandan gay activists such as Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) Pepe Julian Onziema and Frank Mugisha, who have been instrumental in the fight against the country’s homophobia as well as a Catholic Priest and Ugandan hip-hop star. Activists have of course warned that this sort of action is likely to spark violence and a ‘hunt’ of prominent homosexuals.
The law also raised fears for the fight against HIV in the country, as gay people would be unable to be honest with doctors. However, Uganda’s health minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda has said that gay people will still have access to healthcare and can expect confidentiality.
“All people whether they are sexual orientation as gays or otherwise are at complete liberty to get full treatment and to give full disclosure to their doctors and nurses” Rugunda told the BBC.