FIRST LADY, Janet Museveni is reported to have said that the Anti Homosexuality Bill is not meant to persecute gay people, noting that Ugandans do not necessarily kill them although adding that they are not admired either.
The remarks were made, and noted by Uganda’s Observer newspaper that claims the president’s wife reportedly told a human rights delegation that had visited President Museveni.
Last month, a delegation from America’s Robert F Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights met with President Museveni and his wife to discuss the bill.
The president, who believes gay people can be viewed as “deviants”, accused European countries of trying to promote homosexuality and sexual liberalisation.
Mr Museveni was keen to downplay Uganda’s reputation for violent homophobic persecution and said any display of public affection – such as kissing his wife – would be frowned upon in Ugandan society.
Meanwhile, it is now emerging that some legislators want to debate the Bill ‘behind closed doors’ out of fear that their open support will have consequences from Western nations.
This sentiments came as some 40 MPs who spoke to The Observer, said that their constituents want the Bill passed.
"People are saying we need to protect our culture. Homosexuality has not been approved amongst some of their [donor] states but they are imposing it on us," said Remigio Achia (Pian county, Nakapiripirit). We shall not accept this regardless of the implications."
The Observer said that some lawmakers have toyed with the idea of lobbying Speaker Rebecca Kadaga for a closed-door session when debate on the bill starts. National Youth MP, Monica Amoding, told The Observer that some MPs on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee proposed the move because of the sensitive nature of the bill.
"This subject is very sensitive and some of us fear that if it is discussed in public view, we will be persecuted for holding particular views," Amoding said. Not surprisingly, she refused to state whether she supports the bill.
Another MP, who requested anonymity, explained that supporting the bill publically could lead to being blacklisted. He cited David Bahati, the main promoter of the bill, saying the MP has been ostracised by some elements in the West because of his views.
"We have some projects that are funded by donors and at the same time we don’t want to be misunderstood by voters. So, it is better to remain silent to avoid being blacklisted," he said.
In unrelated news, a commission has been set up to investigate allegations brought forward by controversial Catholic priest, Fr Anthony Musaala on clerical sexual abuse by Uganda clergy.
The Archbishop of Kampala, Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga said the commission would establish the truth of Fr Musaala’s allegations.
“We have set up a commission to look into the allegations by Fr Musaala. As to whether the allegations are correct or not, the commission will determine,” he said.
It has also been reported that the archbishop offered an apology to victims of sex abuse by clergy during a Mass on Holy Saturday.
“It’s sad that there has been some misbehaving by some as alleged. We apologize to [those] who may have fallen victims of what happened, but I assure you that the church is doing its duty and don’t give up hope,” he said.
The apology stems from a letter written by Fr Musaala during Easter that called on investigations into years of abuse by clerics on both girls and boys. He also claimed that some clerics had fathered children.
Reports also indicate that Fr Musaala is now barred from speaking to the media about the issue citing an “agreement” he reached with Archbishop Lwanga.
Fr. Anthony Musaala, whom the prelate suspended about a fortnight ago for raising the allegations in public, yesterday said he was constrained to further discuss a subject he thrust into the public domain.
“I made an agreement with the Archbishop [not to talk to the media] because there was so much happening; so much at stake, he said, “So, I will not comment and I hope you appreciate that.”