Today, at around 1:50 p.m. East African Time (5:50 a.m. EST), Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed the country's odious Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law. It imposes a lifetime prison sentence for the "crime" of "aggravated homosexuality," mandates jail time for sexual acts between members of the same sex, compels people to turn in anyone they know who has engaged in same-sex sexual conduct, and penalizes them if they fail to do so.
In a gesture of defiance to the West, which reacted to this legislation with horror, Museveni signed the bill in a ceremony for foreign journalists at the State House in Entebbe. Officials in attendance reportedly broke into "loud applause" as he signed.
The president's signing was accompanied by a smattering of anti-Western remarks. "Our scientists should meet homosexuals and study them and rehabilitate them," Museveni said. "I cannot understand why a man can't be attracted to a beautiful woman and instead get attracted to a fellow man."
Museveni, a devout evangelical Christian, cited the widely-discredited myth that sexual orientation is a matter of choice: "No study has shown that one can purely be a homosexuals by nature. A study done in Sweden showed that 34% were homosexuals as a result of nurture not nature."
The convenient trope of homosexuality as a form of Western imperialism also crept into Museveni's remarks. He said, "We do not impose ourselves on Western culture. What is wrong with this Western culture? Why must you show us how you kiss?" And since he was on the subject of mouths, the president also had a few choice words about oral sex:
"One of the cultures that we detest is oral sex. The mouth is for picking food, not for sex. We know the address for sex. That address (the mouth) is not for sex. The mouth is for eating not for sex. The mouth is engineered for kissing."
And gay oral sex, he claimed, is even worse:
"It is not healthy. You can contract STD (sexually transmitted diseases). You push the mouth there, you can come back with worms and they enter your stomach because that is a wrong address. You can also contract Hepatitis B."
Ugandan LGBT advocate Frank Mugisha said of the signing,
1.54pm : Officially illegal - President Museveni signs law to send me to Jail . Uganda's anti gay bill signed into an act of law— Dr. Frank Mugisha (@frankmugisha) February 24, 2014
Retired Anglican archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Desmond Tutu of South Africa condemned Uganda's anti-LGBT law yesterday, comparing it with the atrocities of apartheid and Nazi Germany:
"We must be entirely clear about this: the history of people is littered with attempts to legislate against love or marriage across class, caste, and race. But there is no scientific basis or genetic rationale for love. There is only the grace of God. There is no scientific justification for prejudice and discrimination, ever. And nor is there any moral justification. Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa, among others, attest to these facts."
"In South Africa, apartheid police used to rush into bedrooms where whites were suspected of making love to blacks. They would feel if the bed sheets were warm, crucial evidence to be used in the criminal case to follow. It was demeaning to those whose 'crime' was to love each other, it was demeaning to the policemen - and it was a blot on our entire society."
Last week, President Obama denounced the bill and said it will "complicate" America's relationship with Uganda.
The text of Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Law is after the jump.