by: Thomson Reuters Foundation
published: 21 Feb 2014
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has put a bill imposing strict penalties for homosexuality on hold to give scientists a chance to prove that homosexuality could be triggered by genes and is not a “lifestyle choice”.
Homosexuality is taboo in African countries and illegal in 37. Few Africans are openly gay, as they fear imprisonment, violence and loss of their jobs.
The United States warned that signing the bill into law would complicate its relationship with Uganda, a regional ally in the fight against the spread of radical Islamists in Somalia to whom it gives more than $400 million in aid every year.
Museveni dismissed the U.S. threat, but said in a statement dated Feb. 18 and seen by Reuters on Friday that he would not sign the proposed law until after hearing from scientists.
“What I want them to clarify is whether a combination of genes can cause anybody to be a homosexual,” Museveni said in the statement. “Then my task will be finished and I will sign the bill.”