In a rambling seven-page letter forwarded to BuzzFeed by an LGBT activist, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni denounces the "Anti-Homosexuality Bill" passed by parliament in December — but he doesn't say he will formally prevent it from passing into law.
Excerpts of the letter were quoted by Uganda's Daily Monitor on Thursday, but the full text of the letter was not immediately available.
After a two-and-a-half page preamble about East African solidarity and economic development, Museveni accuses Speaker Rebecca Kadaga of defying the rule of law by passing the bill without a quorum.
Yet he does not say he will block the bill from becoming law, which means the letter gave little comfort Mugisha, who heads the organization Sexual Minorities Uganda. Though Museveni argues the bill was not duly passed, under the Ugandan constitution, a bill sent by parliament to the president becomes law with in 30 days if he does not block it.
"The danger is he has the bill, and 30 days may end" without him taking formal action, Mugisha said. The letter is dated December 28, which means Museveni has under two weeks at most to reject the bill. But the deadline could be as soon as Monday or Tuesday if he received the bill immediately after its passage on December 20.
Additionally, Mugisha said, Museveni's long discussion of how homosexuality is "abnormal," he added, could "increase hatred."
In the letter, Museveni wrote, "A homosexual is somebody who is abnormal because the normal person was created to be attracted to the opposite sex in order to procreate and perpetuate the human race."
But Museveni continues — in an apparent defense of LGBT people's right to exist — that this does not mean they were not created by God, comparing LGBT people to albinos.
"Who creates albinos? Is it not the same god that creates other people — black Africans and Europeans? ... Simply, nature goes wrong in a minority of cases," he wrote. "A man to fail to be attracted by the beauties of a female body and is attracted to the anus (I now understand) of another man can only represent terrible sickness."
In traditional society, he asserted, this "abnormality" could be "contained" through arranged marriages. "Unfortunately, this has been interfered with by the modern concept of 'falling in love at first sight' grabbed by our 'modern' women and men.... I suspect this has been the problem in Europe and the West."
Museveni continues that "apart from the people who are abnormal, there are a larger group of those who ... get recruited on account of financial inducements." Many lesbians, he suggested, "go into the practice because of sexual starvation when they fail to get married."
"Surplus women" were taken care of through polygamy in the past, he writes, but Christian campaigns to ban plural marriage killed the practice. He then offers his "private view" that "a Moslem who polygamous [can] be as spiritual, as godly, as a Christian who is monogamous."
Anyone who would simply criminalize homosexuality without addressing these factors, he writes, is "a quack social doctor." Only a wealthy person who "lures normal youth into these disgusting behaviors" deserves a life prison sentence, the maximum penalty included in the law passed by parliament.
Messages left with the Ugandan Embassy in Washington seeking comment about the authenticity of the letter were not immediately returned.
Read the full letter:
J. Lester Feder is a world correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. His secure PGP fingerprint is 2353 DB68 8AA6 92BD 67B8 94DF 37D8 0A6F D70B 7211
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