Archbishop Tutu's plea to President Museveni over Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill [Full text]

(Photo: REUTERS / Sumaya Hisham)Former Archbishop of Cape Town and veteran anti-apartheid campaigner Desmond Tutu holds a mass at Cape Town's Anglican St George's Cathedral December 6, 2013. South African anti-apartheid hero Mandela died peacefully at home at the age of 95 on Thursday after months fighting a lung infection, leaving his nation and the world in mourning for a man revered as a moral giant. Tutu said that like all South Africans he was "devastated" by Mandela's death.

23 February 2014

Statement from the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation

Archbishop Tutu's plea to President Museveni over Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill

When President Museveni and I spoke last month, he gave his word that he would not let the Anti-Homosexuality Bill become law in Uganda. I was therefore very disheartened to hear last week that President Museveni was re-considering his position.

In a statement released on Friday, the President said Uganda's scientists had reviewed available literature and unanimously agreed that no single gene could be identified as a trigger for homosexuality. It was learned behaviour that could be unlearned. He had asked the scientists if it was possible that a combination of genes could be responsible. If the scientists reported back that they could still find no genetic rationale for homosexual behaviour he would sign the bill into law, the President said. President Museveni went on to encourage the United States government to work with Uganda's scientists. If it could be proved that "there are people who are born homosexual" the legislation could be reviewed, he said.

We must be entirely clear about this: The history of people is littered with attempts to legislate against love or marriage across class, caste and race. But there is no scientific basis or genetic rationale for love. There is only the grace of God.

There is no scientific justification for prejudice and discrimination, ever. And nor is there any moral justification. Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa, among others, attest to these facts.

Human beings are very diverse. Some have dark brown skins while others are beige, olive or pink. Some have big noses, some are very tall, some are Christian, some speak Swahili, some are financially secure, some are lesbian, some have specially evolved to survive in cold climates. Yet we are members of one family, the human family, God's family; all of us, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, Atheist, African, Asian, European... all; an inter-connected global family in an increasingly inter-connected world.

Our diversity requires of us to be tolerant and compassionate and respectful of each other.

In South Africa, apartheid police used to rush into bedrooms where whites were suspected of making love to blacks. They would feel if the bed sheets were warm, crucial evidence to be used in the criminal case to follow. It was demeaning to those whose "crime" was to love each other, it was demeaning to the policemen – and it was a blot on our entire society.

My plea to President Museveni is to use his country's debate around the Anti-Homosexuality Bill as a catalyst to further strengthen the culture of human rights and justice in Uganda. To strengthen criminal sanctions against those who commit sexual acts with children, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. To strengthen criminal sanctions against all acts of rape and sexual violence, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. And, if needs be, to strengthen criminal sanctions against those involved in commercial sexual transactions – buyers and sellers – regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

Tightening such areas of the law would surely provide children and families far more protection than criminalising acts of love between consenting adults.

God bless you.

Twitter: @TutuLegacy

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