KAMPALA, UGANDA — As parliamentary leaders this week debated a contentious bill toughening the laws against homosexuality in this East African nation, Minister of Sexual Affairs Martin Ssenyonga accused government officials of repeatedly touching his thigh.
“It is our duty to the Ugandan people to outlaw the heinous crime of homosexuality, which threatens the very fabric of our nation,” Ssenyonga told members of the local press after the closed-door session in the Ugandan capital.
“But seriously: who keeps touching my thigh?” the minister asked.
Government officials report that Ssenyonga first felt a hand casually brushing against his thigh during a parliamentary roll call earlier this week. The minister told reporters he was “pretty sure it was an accident,” adding that in the crowded chambers of the Ugandan parliament, “these things, like, just happen sometimes.”
But Ssenyonga’s suspicions were raised Wednesday morning, as the debate over Uganda’s “anti-gay bill” took to the floor of the senate. According to Ssenyonga, the “passing glance of a mysterious hand” soon turned into a “warm, sustained embrace.” The motives behind the prolonged contact remain unclear.
Ssenyonga told reporters he was unsure who keeps touching his thigh.
“Maybe it was [Minister of Health Stephen] Mallinga?” asked Ssenyonga. “I don’t know. Was it [Minister of Education & Sports Namirembe] Bitamazire? I think I supported him on a condom initiative in secondary schools, didn’t I? Maybe he took it the wrong way.”
A visibly flustered Ssenyonga called a press conference this morning, at which he sought to assure his countrymen that the rampant criminality of Ugandan homosexuals would not go unchecked, and to ask his colleagues just who keeps touching his thigh.
“Homosexuality goes against the morals of the traditional African society,” said Ssenyonga. “It is a Western import, and it is an abomination, contrary to the natural human instincts of the African male.
“Was it you, [Crispus] Kiyonga?” Ssenyonga asked the Minister of Defense.
Since Ugandan MP David Bahati proposed a bill last October toughening existing laws against homosexuality in this East African nation, rights groups have assailed Ugandan leaders, urging more tolerance toward the country’s estimated 500,000 gays. US President Barack Obama denounced as “odious” the proposed legislation, which would make the offense of “aggravated homosexuality” punishable by death.
In December, celebrity gay activist and pop icon Adam Lambert launched a “No They Di’n’t!” campaign against the Ugandan government, hoping to raise awareness of the “desperate plight faced by Uganda’s fabulous, oppressed queers.”
Ssenyonga said the protests of Western governments only furthered his resolve to push through the new legislation, adding that such protests failed to explain why a “firm, not unloving hand” continued to slide up his thigh during parliamentary meetings.
“Ugandans will continue to oppose the imposition of Western vices on our proud African way of life,” said Ssenyonga, as he warily eyed a crowd of reporters approaching him from behind.
He added that while the contact from the mystery hand was “not unpleasant,” it would be up to Ugandans to determine how best to deal with the lustful overtures of their neighbors.
“We will not allow Western governments to force us to our knees,” said Ssenyonga.
“On this issue we will stand together. But slightly apart. At a reasonable and respectful distance.”