Mbeki slams Uganda's anti-gay bill
Kampala - Former president Thabo Mbeki has criticised Uganda's anti-gay bill, saying it does not make sense and what two consenting adults do in private "is really not the matter of law".
Uganda's Daily Monitor reports that Mbeki made the comments during a question and answer session at the Makerere Institute of Social Research in Kampala last week.
He was asked a question about the plight of a lesbian woman and Ugandan MP David Bahati's anti-gay bill, which seeks the death penalty for aggravated homosexuality, including the spread of HIV/Aids. It has been reintroduced in the Ugandan parliament after lawmakers failed to debate it during the previous session.
"I would say to the MP; sexual preferences are a private matter. I don’t think it is a matter of the state to intervene," Mbeki responded.
He added that he was certain Bahati would disagree with his stand and argue that African culture does not permit same sex relations, which he said was at the heart of the continent’s widespread antipathy towards homosexuals.
Mbeki added that apartheid South Africa prohibited sexual relations across the colour line, and the Immorality Act gave police legal ground to raid "people's bedrooms".
"I mean what would you want? It doesn’t make sense at all. That is what I would say to the MP. What two consenting adults do is really not the matter of law."
When asked for comment by the Daily Monitor, Bahati said the bill was brought to curb several issues including inducement, recruitment and funding homosexuality. "His Excellency [Mbeki] needs to read the bill and understand the spirit in which it was brought and the context in which we are talking about."
Boost for gay rights
The Daily Monitor said Mbeki's comments came as a boost to crusaders of gay rights in Uganda.
South African gay rights organisation SA GLAAD said on Monday it is highly appreciative of the firm commitment to human rights and the South African Constitution as displayed by Mbeki.
"We wish President Zuma would do the right thing and denounce the virulent homophobia on the African continent and specifically address the Bahati-Bill in Uganda via diplomatic means," it said.
Mbeki was in Kampala to debate post-cold war Africa and why the continent is reliant on external interventions in dealing with local issues.