President Yoweri Museveni

President Yoweri Museveni has said that gays will be tolerated in Uganda as long as they keep their sex life to themselves.

Appearing on BBC’s Hard Talk, he admitted that gay people might have traditionally existed in Africa, but said that homosexuality should not be ‘promoted’ as is the case in the West.

“Homosexuals, in small numbers, have existed in our part of black Africa. They were never prosecuted, they were never discriminated, but the difference between us and the Western societies is that they were also not promoted. So the problem is on the promotion … as if it is something good,” Museveni told the BBC’s Stephen Sackur.

“What happened in our traditional society; homosexuals would be known. It would not be approved but it would be ignored and it would be their private issue.”

When asked if he supported the pending Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which is being considered by his country’s parliament, he replied: “My view is that I do not support promotion of homosexuality, but I do not support prosecution or discrimination of homosexuals.”

Museveni, who has been president since 1986, also rehashed conservative Africa’s paranoia that there is a Western conspiracy to ‘convert’ or bribe children into homosexuality.

When asked if he would veto the bill, which would impose the life sentence and possibly the death sentence, on those found guilty of certain categories of homosexuality, he said that it would depend on what the life sentence is for.

“For instance by bringing young children into that practice by offering money… that’s where the problem is. Inducement, manipulation, using money which they collect from the West; that’s what I would also not like,” he explained.

In the interview he mused that “the normal way is to be heterosexual… but maybe there are some exceptions for some good scientific reasons”.

He added: “Just keep your own confidential sexual life to yourself.”

Earlier this month, Minister for Ethics and Integrity, Simon Lokodo led a raid on an LGBT activists’ workshop in Uganda. He broke up the meeting and dispersed the delegates under threat of force.

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