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Kampala (AFP) – Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni views gays as “sick” but does not believe they should be jailed or executed and will block a push by parliament to impose tough penalties, his spokesman said on Friday.

“He does not approve of homosexuality but he believes that these people have a right to exist,” presidential spokesman Tamale Mirudi told AFP.

“The president says that these people are sick, you cannot kill a sick person. A person that has been found guilty of homosexual practices cannot be imprisoned for life.”

The spokesman confirmed a report in the independent Daily Monitor newspaper that Museveni had refused to approve a controversial bill passed by parliament last month that would have seen homosexuals jailed for life.

He also insisted that the president was not backing down in the face of widespread international condemnation of the bill.

“What the President has being saying is that we shall not persecute these homosexuals and lesbians. That is the point. That is the message. Maybe society can resent them but they cannot be persecuted because of their problem,” Mirudi said.

“It was not because of a lobby. Nobody has influenced the president. The president’s position has been the same for a long time, nothing has changed,” he added.

“The president has repeatedly said that we always have been having homosexuals in Africa and they never have been persecuted. But we shall not allow them to marry in public, to organize a demonstration in Kampala,” the spokesman said.

Photo: Stan Honda via AFP

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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