Museveni announced his decision to governing party lawmakers, said government spokesman Ofwono Opondo. In Twitter posts on Friday, Opondo said the legislators, who are holding a retreat chaired by Museveni, "welcomed the development as a measure to protect Ugandans from social deviants."
Museveni's decision was based on a report by "medical experts" presented at the retreat, saying that "homosexuality is not genetic but a social behavior," said Opondo.
Evelyn Anite, a spokeswoman for the governing party, said the report, which had been requested by the president, was prepared by more than a dozen scientists from Uganda's Health Ministry.
Opondo and Anite both said the president did not indicate when he will sign the legislation into law.
Homosexuality already is illegal in Uganda under a colonial-era law that criminalizes sex acts "against the order of nature."
An earlier version of the bill, first introduced in 2009, proposed the death penalty for some homosexual acts. Although that provision was later removed amid international pressure, rights groups want the whole bill jettisoned. Amnesty International has described it as draconian, repeatedly urging Museveni not to sign it into law.
But the bill is popular in Uganda, one of many sub-Saharan African countries where homosexuals face severe discrimination if not jail terms. A new law in Nigeria last month increased penalties against gays.
After the Ugandan bill was passed late last year, Museveni said he wanted his governing party to reach what he called a "scientifically correct" position on homosexuality, ordering the team of government scientists to investigate whether homosexuality is a lifestyle, according to Anite.
Their report led Museveni to believe homosexuality should be punished, she said.
Museveni, who has criticized gays as "abnormal" people who should be "rehabilitated," had previously called the bill too harsh.
Ugandan lawmakers passed it on Dec. 20. Since then Museveni has been under pressure within his own party to sign the legislation, which has wide support among Christian clerics and lawmakers who say it is needed to deter Western homosexuals from "recruiting" Ugandan children.
Ugandan gay activists have accused some of their country's political and religious leaders of being influenced of American evangelicals who want to spread their anti-gay campaign in Africa.
A prominent Ugandan gay group singled out Scott Lively, a Massachusetts evangelical, and sued him in March 2012 under the Alien Tort Statute, which allows non-citizens to file suit in the U.S. if there is an alleged violation of international law.
Rejecting Lively's request to dismiss the lawsuit, a federal judge ruled in August that the case could proceed, saying systematic persecution on the basis of sexual orientation violates international norms.
Lively denied he wanted severe punishment for gays, and he has previously told The Associated Press he never advocated violence against gays but advised therapy for them.
The bill before Museveni would allow life imprisonment for acts of "aggravated homosexuality," defined as sex acts where one of the partners is infected with HIV, sex with minors or the disabled, and repeated sexual offenses among consenting adults. The bill also would make conducting a same-sex marriage ceremony punishable by seven years in prison.
|Nigerian Gay Men being Publically humiliated|
Robyn Lieberman of Human Rights First said, "There should be no doubt that Museveni's latest words on the subject have been influenced by the reaction to similar legislation in Nigeria, Russia and elsewhere."
Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said, "Unless this bill is stopped from becoming law, lives will be destroyed and countless people will be punished for an immutable characteristic."
He said, "Anti-LGBT Americans advocated for laws further criminalizing LGBT people in Uganda, and it looks like they are now getting their wish. Whether it's Brian Brown advocating for anti-LGBT laws in Russia or Scott Lively calling for the further criminalization of LGBT people in Uganda, anti-LGBT Americans must stop exporting their hate abroad."
Brown is president of the National Organization for Marriage, a Washington-based group that opposes same-sex marriage.
A Russian law, signed by President Vladimir Putin in June, bans gay "propaganda" from reaching minors. The law has drawn strong international criticism and calls for a boycott of the Sochi Games from gay activists and others.
ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) - A mob armed with wooden clubs and iron bars, screaming that they were going to "cleanse" their neighborhood of gay people, dragged 14 young men from their beds and assaulted them, human rights activists said Saturday.
Four of the victims were marched to a police station, where they allegedly were kicked and punched by police officers who yelled pejoratives at them, said Ifeanyi Orazulike of the International Center on Advocacy for the Right to Health.
Police threatened that the men would be incarcerated for 14 years, he said, the maximum prison sentence under Nigeria's new Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, dubbed the "Jail the Gays" law. Activists have warned the law could trigger attacks such as the one perpetrated in the early hours of Thursday morning in Abuja, the capital of Africa's most populous nation.
Mob justice is common in Nigeria and civil rights organizations have been warning for years of an increase in community violence and the government's failure to curb acts in which people have been beaten to death for perceived crimes such as theft.
"Since the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act was signed, we have expressed concern as a friend of Nigeria that it might be used by some to justify violence against Nigerians based on their sexual orientation," the U.S. Embassy said in a statement Friday. "Recent attacks in Abuja deepen our concern on this front."
The police spokeswoman for the Federal Capital Territory, Deputy Superintendent Altine Daniel, said she was unaware of the attack but would try to get details for The Associated Press.
Orazulike said he got a panicked email from a colleague who said he was hiding from a mob of 40 people who struck around 1 a.m. Thursday, going from house to house saying their mission was "to cleanse" the area of gays. He said they used pieces of wood and iron to beat up 14 young men. Orazulike said he drove from his home at 4 a.m. Thursday to save the man in Gishiri, a shantytown with mud roads near central Abuja.
Those attacked are in hiding and too scared to speak to reporters, he said, recounting their story.
"They were told `If you come back, we will kill you."'
The walls of houses where the men lived have been painted with graffiti declaring "Homosexuals, pack and leave," he said.
The New York-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission condemned the attack and warned, "It is important that people understand that this kind of violence can happen to anyone and that the government seems to have abdicated its responsibility to protect people from violence and impunity."
Orazulike said he went to the police station later Thursday and met with a senior officer who ordered the four men released because there was no evidence that they were gay and they had not been caught having sex.
Four were severely injured and others suffered bruises, he said. They were treated at his organization's clinic because they were afraid to go to the hospital.
"They said the police slapped and kicked them and swore at them," he said.
Dorothy Aken'Ova, executive director of Nigeria's International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights, said she stayed up all night Wednesday trying to get police and Civil Defense to send officers to the scene after she got a phone call from a man who was being attacked.
"Instead of helping them, apparently some of them were arrested," she told AP. "None of the (law enforcement) agents responded to our distress calls."
Dozens of allegedly gay people have been arrested since President Goodluck Jonathan signed the bill into law in January. It not only forbids gay marriage, which carries a 14-year jail sentence, it makes it a crime for anyone, straight or homosexual, to hold a meeting of gays or to advocate human rights for gays. Convicted offenders can be jailed for up to 10 years.
U.S. President Barack Obama's initiative to promote the rights of homosexuals has been rebuffed in Africa, where Uganda also is considering a draconian law carrying penalties of up to life imprisonment for certain gay acts. Many Africans believe homosexuality is an evil import from the West.
However, the U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, James F. Entwistle, on a recent radio program assured Nigerians that the United States would not be cutting aid because of the new anti-gay law.