Report: President of Uganda says homosexuality is caused by ‘random breeding’ in Western countries


President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni (Carl Court/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is refusing to approve a controversial bill that would sharpen his country's already severe laws against same-sex relationships, imposing prison time for even discussing homosexuality in the abstract. But don't confuse this with protecting gay rights. Museveni, in power since 1986, has been a fierce opponent of gay rights, and appears to be making a political decision here to balance between anti-gay political forces at home and the risk of losing foreign aid.

Part of Museveni's balancing act reportedly included sending his parliament a letter explaining his decision. A Ugandan newspaper called The Daily Monitor reported what the text of the letter says (both the BBC and Voice of America, who have reporters there, considered it credible enough to repeat). Museveni reportedly argued that the government should focus on helping gay men and women be "rescued" from homosexuality by improving the economy (the link is not clear), further explaining, "Even with legislation, they will simply go underground and continue practicing homosexuality or lesbianism for mercenary reasons."

And then the president of Uganda went on to offer his theory for what causes homosexuality.

"You cannot call an abnormality an alternative orientation," Museveni wrote of homosexuality, according to the reports. "It could be that the Western societies, on account of random breeding, have generated many abnormal people."

Museveni's letter also reportedly claimed that some people have adopted homosexuality due to "financial inducements," or in the case of some women out of "sexual starvation."

These views would certainly be kooky, but they would sadly not be unique. The idea that homosexuality is a "Western perversion" imposed from outside can be unfortunately common in some African countries, in large part a product of leaders stirring up homophobia and anti-Western sentiment to generate support or distract from other issues.

Gay rights have been rapidly worsening in sub-Saharan Africa over recent years. Since a new anti-gay law was passed in Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, dozens of men and women accused of homosexuality have been arrested.

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Max Fisher · January 17, 2014