Ugandan State-Owned Media Highlights Museveni’s Speech Against Anti-Gay Bill

Jim Burroway

January 12th, 2010

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s announcement before the executive council of his ruling party that he will “discuss” the Anti-Homosexuality Bill with MP David Bahati received prominent play in tomorrow morning’s edition of the state-owned New Vision newspaper. Anonymous BTB tipsters from Uganda report that Museveni’s remarks were also featured in the evening newscasts from state-run UBC televsion and similar news broadcasts from other private independent television stations. (You can see NTV’s coverage of Museveni’s remarks here.)

The New Vision article contained extensive quotes from Museveni’s remarks:

Museveni said he had been questioned about the bill by several foreign leaders, including the Canadian prime minister, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He said Clinton called him for over 45 minutes over the issue.  “I told them that this bill was brought up by a private member and I have not even had time to discuss it with him. It is neither the Government nor the NRM party. It is a private member,” Museveni told the NRM meeting at State House Entebbe.

“It is my judgment that our foreign policy is not managed just by some individuals. We have our values and our stand, historically and socially, but we need to know also that our partners we have been working with have their systems,” he added as members murmured in disapproval.

Museveni narrated that the gay community in New York organised a rally and invited then President Bill Clinton.  “In that rally, about 300,000 homosexuals attended. I challenge you. Who of you, MPs, has ever had a rally of 300,000 people, other than me? Even for me, it is not often that I get those numbers,” he said.

Here is audio of Museveni’s remarks, as provided by an anonymous BTB reader in Uganda.

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While Uganda has the apparatus of a parliamentary democracy, real power resides in the hands of the president who has held power for almost 24 years since overthrowing his successor in a 1985 civil war. Last fall, he shut down opposition radio stations which were critical of his policies against the traditional king of Buganda following widespread rioting.

So when President Museveni announces that he is going to “discuss” the Anti-Homosexuality Bill with MP Bahati, it’s reasonable to assume that some sort of action will take place. Whether it will be a modification around the edges of the far-reaching bill or its complete withdrawal, it’s hard to say. But it does mean that whatever happens from this point on, it happens because Museveni wants it to happen. This makes Museveni’s remarks — and the prominent attention those remarks are receiving in state-owned news outlets — the most encouraging development in the past year.

Click here to see BTB\’s complete coverage of the past year\’s anti-gay developments in Uganda.

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