Museveni says Uganda won't be swayed after anti-LGBTQ law triggers aid cut threats

FILE PHOTO: Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni speaks during a Reuters interview at his farm in Kisozi settlement of Gomba district, in the Central Region of Uganda, January 16, 2022. REUTERS/Abubaker Lubowa

KAMPALA (Reuters) -Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has defended signing one of the world's harshest anti-LGBTQ laws, with punishments up to and including the death penalty, saying it was needed to prevent LGBTQ community members he said were "disoriented" from "recruiting" others.

His comments were the first since he signed the bill into law, triggering widespread Western criticism including threats by U.S. President Joe Biden and others to cut aid to Uganda and impose other sanctions.

"The signing is finished, nobody will move us," Museveni said while meeting lawmakers from his National Resistance Movement party, a statement issued by his office late on Wednesday showed.

The law stipulates capital punishment for "serial offenders" and for transmission of a terminal illness like HIV/AIDS through gay sex and for having same-sex relations with a person with a disability. It also decrees a 20-year sentence for "promoting" homosexuality.

Museveni told his party's lawmakers that before signing the law that he had consulted widely to try to determine whether homosexuality was genetic and that he had been persuaded by experts that it was not and described it instead as "psychological disorientation."

"The problem is that, yes, you are disoriented. You have got a problem to yourself. Now, don't try to recruit others. If you try to recruit people into a disorientation, then we go for you. We punish you," he said.

"But secondly, if you violently grab some children and you rape them and so on and so forth, we kill you. And that one I totally support, and I will support.”

The law also imposes a life sentence for same-sex intercourse and a 20-year sentence for promotion of homosexuality.

Firms including media and non-governmental organisations that knowingly promote LGBTQ activity will also incur harsh fines, the law says.

Homosexuality was already illegal in the conservative and highly religious East African country, and homosexuals faced ostracism and harassment by security forces.

(Editing by George Obulutsa and Hugh Lawson)

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