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Retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu asks Uganda to reject antigay bill

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Sunday made an impassioned plea to Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni not to sign into law a harsh antihomosexuality bill that calls for a life sentence for some same-sex relations.

Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, said in a statement that Museveni a month ago had pledged not to allow the antigay legislation to become law in Uganda. But last week Museveni said he had reconsidered and would consult scientists on whether homosexuality is determined by genetics or by a person’s choice.

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Tutu said he is ‘‘disheartened’’ by Museveni’s new position because there is ‘‘no scientific basis or genetic rationale for love. . . . There is no scientific justification for prejudice and discrimination, ever.’’

Tutu urged Museveni to strengthen Uganda’s ‘‘culture of human rights and justice.’’

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Uganda’s controversial antigay bill was passed by the country’s Parliament in December. It must be signed by Museveni to become law.

Tutu called on Museveni to change course and instead concentrate on legislation against rape and sex with children. Tutu said that would provide more protection for children and families than criminalizing ‘‘acts of love between consenting adults.’’

Museveni said he is open to debate and he encouraged ‘‘the US government to help us by working with our scientists to study whether, indeed, there are people who are born homosexual. When that is proved, we can review this legislation.’’

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