Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni—who only recently declared European gays were recruiting in Africa—reportedly told an American envoy that he will block or veto the proposed legislation that seeks to execute gays for the offense of "aggravated homosexuality", reports DC Agenda.
Jon Tollefson, a State Department spokesperson, told DC Agenda that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has pledged on several occasions to the top U.S. diplomat engaged in Africa that he would stop progress on the anti-gay bill. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson received this assurance from Museveni on Oct. 24 during an in-person meeting with the president in Uganda and again during a phone conversation with Museveni on Dec. 4, Tollefson said.
When the bill started moving forward and gaining international attention, Carson on Dec. 4 contacted Museveni by phone to reiterate U.S. concerns, and the president again expressed his commitment to stop the bill from becoming law. Asked whether it’s the understanding of U.S. officials that Museveni would veto the legislation should it come to his desk, Tollefson replied, "Right, that’s a commitment that he’s made. He made that personally to the assistant secretary on that first meeting that he had on Oct. 24 and again on a call on Dec. 4, and so we’re going to continue to expect that."
Uganda receives almost $300 million annually in United States aid.
The Anti Homosexuality Bill is moving forward in the Ugandan parliament. On Friday, legislators has a second reading of the bill. Its expected to come up again in January for a final reading.
Museveni's administration has been among the harshest toward LGBTs in Africa. While Museveni has said nothing on the bill, his cabinet, including rabidly anti-gay Ethics Minister James Nsaba Buturo supports the bill. (In September 2007, Buturo publicly warned all gays to leave the East African nation.) If Museveni intended to veto legislation, it seems like a tremendous waste of effort and bad publicity to introduce the bill and go forward in parliament. Meanwhile: The bill's sponsor says the death penalty provision will remain. We'll see what happens.