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Africa

Don’t tamper with Uganda’s children, says MP backing new anti-gay law

media 'Some Ugandans are gay. Get over it!' A gay activist celebrating the annulment of Uganda's anti-gay law, Entebbe, 9 August 2014 Reuters/Edward Echwalu

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is set to re-table a controversial anti-gay bill that was recently struck down by the country's constitutional court. The original version of the law passed in February, however it was overturned on a technicality this month. The law had punished gay sex with long prison terms and attracted criticism from Western aid donors. According to MPs backing a new version of the bill, the law will be watered down and focused on the threat of supposed homosexual recruitment of children. RFI spoke to Medard Bitekyerezo, a Ugandan MP supporting the new bill.

President Museveni wants this law back in parliament. Can you tell us more?

I’m one of those Ugandans who believes that we should follow what God created and the rules of nature. I’m a doctor by profession, I’m not somebody who has not gone to school, I’ve been to school. Our president is a bit careful with this law. The president was saying that there are so many people out there even in places where you stay who enjoy homosexuality. Am I right or not? In fact, everywhere in Europe, in America, I’m told there are some people there who are very interested, they want to sleep with men when they are men. True or false?

There are some people in Europe who are homosexual, yes.

But here in Uganda we haven’t been seeing them often, but they’re also coming up and we know there are some people abusing our children. We feel we don’t want our president to support a law that is going to accept our children to be molested by those who are doing homosexuality here. I think there, he agrees with us because we say why should anybody come and train my kids to become homosexual when for me I want my kids to start producing children, to inherit my property. Point number two, the president does not believe in promotion of homosexuality because here in Uganda and Africa at large, when you want to sleep with your wife, to go and hide yourself in your house, whatever happens there, it happens. But this thing of going and kissing everybody by the roadside, it does not work here. For us, the people here don’t want it, they say sex is very sacred. So he says anybody promoting it by the roadside is not very good. We are saying nobody should come with money, to our country, to start recruiting those disadvantaged who don’t have the money, into homosexuality. However, our president is saying, there are some people who have opted to go into hotels and they’re sleeping together and they are adults, and they have consented. He says we shouldn’t tamper with them and we have also agreed.

You’ve said that this is about recruitment of children and exploiting financially vulnerable young people. Doesn’t Uganda have laws against paedophilia?

We as Ugandans we are saying, if anybody is a homosexual, do not tamper with my son. I want to have grandchildren when I’m dead, even when I’m still alive. So we don’t have a law against that one, it’s there but it’s very weak. If they are going to do their things over there, they should be doing it as adults and people should consent. That’s what the president has told us.

There’s an implicit argument that you’re making, that homosexuals want to recruit children. I would suggest that they don’t necessarily want to recruit children.

For us what we’re saying, the homosexuals, when you go to the real homosexuality, it does not produce children because these are fellas who are going into a room to undress. I think you agree with me. We are saying for us Ugandans, some of us are very committed we have taken the trouble to produce children.

If homosexuals don’t want to have children surely that’s their choice.

Everybody has got a choice not to produce children, so don’t tamper with my children. That’s what we’re saying. What we have put in this new law, we are saying, if adults have consented, period, there’s no problem. We shall not harass them. But what we don’t want them to do is, we do not want them to recruit our children into homosexuality. This one’s a very clear statement from me, I am talking as a Ugandan, I will remain in this country, we shall protect this country, because we feel that children should be given a chance to make their own choices and we must protect children until they have become adults.

Won’t this law also discriminate against gay people?

We do not discriminate against gay people. I can tell you in Uganda here when they are very sick they go to a doctor and they get treatment. But what the Ugandans are saying, not to do it on very vulnerable people, not to do it on children because we have seen this thing coming into schools.

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