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Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has been battling a public relations nightmare after the passing of his country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, with officials saying that the law was misunderstood earlier this summer. President Museveni, feeling the economic pressure of the trade sanctions and halted international donations, is considering taking a new look at the controversial law.

The New Vision newspaper, a leading publication in Uganda, ran an editorial from President Museveni. While the leader did not back away from his stance that homosexuality was wrong, he did caution that the nation would struggle to battle trade blockades and could damage the country’s bottom line.

From New Vision:

We should also punish harshly those who engage in homosexual prostitution (homosexuals recruiting non-homosexuals for money). My problem, however, were those who were born like that. You cannot punish somebody for the way he was born even when he/she is a deviant.

Later on, our scientists argued that all homosexuality was by nurture not nature. On the basis of that, I agreed to sign the Bill although some people still contest that understanding. I was also provoked into signing the Bill by the arrogant approach of some foreign governments.

After signing the Bill, there was a lot of happiness among the Ugandans as well as other Africans although there was a lot of hostility from the bulk of western governments. Some cut off “aid”, etc. We were, of course, not moved because a country like Uganda should not need “aid” if only all our people could wake up and work hard and diligently. In spite of cutting “aid”, our economy grew by 4.7% last financial year, the crisis in South Sudan notwithstanding.

That crisis caused more problems for the economy of Uganda than the “aid” cuts. Soon, however, a more serious problem cropped up — the possibility of trade boycott by Western companies under the pressure of the homosexual lobbies in the West.

I came to know this when I hosted a huge delegation of Asian and European companies that are involved in textiles. They pointed out to me what I was already picking from other sources. This is the fact that the wages in China are going up and, therefore, China is becoming less competitive for certain types of factories e.g. manufacturing of textiles.

Analysis of President Museveni’s editorial suggests that the country’s ability to trade with foreign countries, especially more liberal nations tolerant of the LGBT community, has been been undermined by the law he put into effect this past February.

In the conclusion of the letter, President Museveni has asked global leaders to hold audience with him and has held talks with the Hon. David Bahati of his Parliament, the author of the anti-homosexuality law, on ways to move the country forward. A debate on the issue could be forthcoming.

Photo: Russell Watkins/Department for International Development; Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic