Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni will not rush to approve a controversial anti-gay draft law, widely criticised internationally but overwhelmingly backed by local political and religious leaders, his spokesperson says.
Uganda’s Parliament adopted the Bill on December 20. It will see repeat offenders jailed for life, sparking an international outcry as lawmakers hailed it as a victory against “evil”.
“There has been pressure from religious leaders and Parliament to sign the Bill into law,” presidential spokesperson Tamale Mirundi told international news agency, Agence France-Presse (AFP), adding that Museveni “won’t rush to assent the Bill before he studies it” fully.
“President Museveni is a practical president, he takes decisions based on analysis and not on how many support or are against it,” he added.
Deputies voted overwhelmingly in favour of the text, which has been condemned by rights activists and world leaders – with US President Barack Obama describing it as “odious” and Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu comparing it to apartheid.
But gay rights activists in Uganda say the legislation has widespread support in the fiercely homophobic nation. An earlier draft not approved by Parliament had proposed the death penalty for repeat offenders.
Some Ugandans have raised concerns that donor aid could be restricted if the Bill is signed into law, while British tycoon Richard Branson has urged companies to boycott Uganda over the draconian Bill.
Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has warned the law “would reinforce stigma and prejudice, and institutionalise discrimination”.
The presidential spokesman’s comments come a day after Stanley Ntagali, the Archbishop, Church of Uganda said no amount of threats will stop religious leaders from preaching against homosexuality in the country and the world at large.
In his New Year’s sermon to a congregation at Namirembe Cathedral in the Ugandan capital Kampala, Ntagali said he had read a report in a foreign Newspaper accusing Church leaders in Uganda of preaching about their homophobia and that they should not preach against Homosexuality and lesbianism.
Archbishop Ntagali said marriage is between man and woman and that bishops and pastors do not need to be scared by anybody because it is their mandate to preach against evil.
Additional Reporting By AFP