President Yoweri Museveni will sign Uganda’s “kill the gays” bill:
This is a reversal for Museveni, who had written to members of parliament after the legislation passed in December that he had come to believe that homosexuality was a biological “abnormality” and not something that should be criminalized. He had also told Western human rights activists that he would reject the bill during a meeting last month. … The deciding factor may have been that a panel of party members with medical backgrounds Museveni convened to study the cause of homosexuality presented a report concluding homosexuality is not an inborn trait. Museveni had told lawmakers he would sign the bill if “I have got confirmation from scientists that this condition is not genetic.”
The “good news” is that it looks like gays won’t face the death penalty: just life imprisonment. Burroway suspects that politics are behind the decision:
Speaker Kadaga, who is among the bill’s earliest supporters, reportedly has presidential aspirations and sees pushing Anti-Homosexuality Bill as a convenient populist move.
Her pushing the bill through Parliament set up an interesting dynamic ahead of the annual NRM Caucus in January where Museveni had planned to line up support for his bid for re-election in 2016 to add another 5-year term to what will be thirty years in office. At least one of his ministers had threatened to resign if Museveni were to return the bill to Parliament, a development that would complicate his party’s coronation.
The editor of the Observer, a Ugandan publication, agrees that the vote was political. But he thinks the law could be overturned in court:
The Observer Editor Richard M Kavuma believes the president may have been guided by political calculations. Because he was keen to win over MPs on key issues such as denying suspects bail on certain offences, Kavuma said, the president may have decided to sign the popular bill as a concession. “But it is also true that some of the president’s people may challenge the legislation in court and given Uganda’s largely progressive Constitution, they may get the bill declared unconstitutional,” Kavuma said. “That way the president comes out looking good to his anti-gay electorate, while the judges will take the flak from Uganda’s generally Christian conservative population.”