Ahead of the NRM party retreat in Kyankwazi on Thursday, scientists set up to explain the causes of homosexual behaviour have begun writing their report.
President Museveni, at an earlier meeting at State House last month, surprised his ruling NRM MPs when he said he would only sign the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law, if there is scientific proof that homosexuals were made and not born.
By his statement Museveni, perhaps inadvertently, betrayed his conviction that homosexuality had genetic rather than social causes.
His declaration stirred an angry response from the NRM caucus. To calm tensions, he suggested that a team of scientists study the problem (homosexuality) and present a report to the NRM caucus during its February 6-16 retreat in Kyankwanzi.
One of the scientists on the team, Mbarara Municipality MP Medard Bitekyerezo, told The Observer on Monday that his own study showed that homosexuals were not born. He says homosexuality is a socially-acquired behaviour that can even be cured.
“From the research that I have engaged in for some time ever since we were assigned by the caucus, I have discovered that there is no gene that is said to produce [homosexuality] as claimed by some people,” he said.
In December, Parliament passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which slaps a life sentence on anyone found guilty of engaging in homosexual behaviour. However, the president refused to assent to the proposed law on grounds that he needed to consult more. Many believe President Museveni is reluctant to assent to the bill largely to avoid a backlash from the international community.
The team of scientists established to carry-out research is guided by genetic experts from the region. It is composed of NRM lawmakers with a medical background. These include; Kinkiizi East MP Dr Chris Baryomunsi, Dr Bitekyerezo (Mbarara municipality), Dr Kenneth Omona (Kaberamaido) and Dr Sam Lyomoki (Workers).
“We were given the terms of reference and accordingly we are meant to produce evidence that will guide the House with regard to how it is going to deal with the issue of homosexuality,” Dr Bitekyerezo said.
“Before the caucus makes a consensus on this matter of homosexuality, there is need for members to know whether this act is artificial or natural because there are different opinions being advanced with regard to this matter and as such expert evidence needs to be availed to guide members,” Bitekyerezo said.
In his findings, Dr Omona says homosexuals are made but not born.
“In one study [it is] revealed that actually 50 per cent of the homosexuals revert to heterosexuality if rehabilitated in time. This, in itself, reveals a behavioural aspect,” he told us.
These findings, however, contradict the 2010 Report of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in England on Human Sexuality submitted to the Church of England. The report, quoted by Peter Mulira, a senior lawyer, writing in the Daily Monitor, reveals that “.......sexual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex interplay of genetic factors and the early uterine environment. Sexual orientation is, therefore, not a choice.”
Regardless of the findings, the president is likely to seek a compromise, sources said.
“I think that he is going to seek a balanced position on the matter. He is going to emphasize that the law should be amended to criminalize the act on ground of motive. This is so that he does not want to annoy the electorate who the lawmakers owe too much and at the same time the international community,” said a senior cabinet minister.
Museveni last month criticised Parliament for passing the bill in December without a quorum. He said homosexuals were “abnormal” or were so for “mercenary reasons” and if the economy improved, they could be “rescued.”