“No one will make us move,” Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said on Wednesday in response to threats of sanctions from some Western countries since he signed into law the “Anti-Homosexuality Law 2023”, considered to be one of the most repressive in the world.
“The NRM (National Resistance Movement, the ruling party, editor’s note) has never had a double standard: what we tell you by day is what we will tell you by night.
So, the signing of the bill is over, nobody will make us move”, declared Mr Museveni at a meeting of members of the ruling party, quoted in a press release issued by the Ugandan presidency and on the NRM’s official website.
“President Museveni urged Ugandans to stand firm, stressing that the issue of homosexuality is a serious matter that concerns the human race. He congratulated the legislators for their support, adding that once they fight for the right cause, no one can defeat them”, the statement said, referring to his speech on Wednesday to 400 NRM parliamentarians gathered in Kyankwanzi, some 200 kilometres south of the capital.
According to the statement, the President also said: “The other time, when I met you in Kololo (a district of Kampala), I told you that you should be ready for a war. And you can’t go to war when you’re looking for pleasure, if you like the good life”.
These are the first public comments by the Ugandan Head of State since the announcement on Monday of the promulgation of the law known as the “Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023”.
This law provides for heavy penalties for people who have homosexual relations and “promote” homosexuality. The crime of “aggravated homosexuality” is punishable by death, a penalty that has not been applied for years in Uganda.
The enactment of this law provoked a wave of indignation from human rights organisations and many Western countries.
Ugandan human rights activists have urged the international community to impose sanctions against their leaders.
Denouncing a “tragic attack” on human rights, US President Joe Biden said he had asked his administration to study the consequences of this “shameful” law on “all aspects of cooperation between the United States and Uganda”.
The American authorities are considering “additional measures”, such as sanctions or restrictions on entry to their territory for “anyone associated with human rights violations or corruption”, he added.
The head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, also condemned a law that was “contrary to human rights”.
“The Ugandan government has an obligation to protect all its citizens and ensure that their fundamental rights are respected. If it fails to do so, relations with international partners will be compromised”, he warned.
In 2014, international donors had already reduced their aid following the passing of a law punishing homosexuality.
In particular, Washington suspended funding for government programmes and imposed visa bans. European countries such as Denmark, Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands had also frozen part of their bilateral aid.
The law was eventually annulled by the Constitutional Court on the grounds of a technical defect in the vote.