KAMPALA (AFP) - Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has made an impassioned defence of his decision to crack down on gays, saying his tough stance on immorality meant he would not even dare kiss his wife in public.
The statement from the president, carried by local media on Friday, was widely seen as swipe against US President Barack Obama, who has been fiercly critical of Uganda's anti-gay law and who celebrated his own re-election win with a public embrace of his wife Michelle.
Last week Museveni said he would sign into law a controversial Bill that will see homosexuals jailed for life, despite international pressure and warnings from Washington that bilateral relations would be harmed.
"Exhibitionism of homosexual behaviour must be punished because, in this part of the world, it is forbidden to publicly exhibit any sexual conduct (kissing, etc) even for heterosexuals," the president's statement said.
"If I kissed my wife of 41 years in public, I would lose elections in Uganda," said Mr Museveni, who has led Uganda since 1986 and has been seeking support for another term in office.
Mr Museveni said he was initially opposed to the anti-gay law because he thought "it was wrong to punish somebody on account of being born abnormal" - much in the same way that he wouldn't punish an albino or a woman without breasts.
However, he said that advice from scientists in Uganda's Department of Genetics, School of Medicine and the Ministry of Health showed a "unanimous conclusion.. that homosexuality,contrary to my earlier thinking, was behavioural and not genetic" - and therefore it should be punished.
"I therefore encourage 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," he added.
"Africans do not seek to impose their views on anybody. We do not want anybody to impose their views on us. This very debate was provoked by Western groups who come to our schools and try to recruit children into homosexuality," Mr Museveni wrote.
The anti-gay Bill cruised through the Ugandan parliament in December after its architects agreed to drop an extremely controversial death penalty clause, although the Bill still says that repeat homosexuals should be jailed for life, outlaws the promotion of homosexuality and requires people to denounce gays.
Mr Museveni, a devout evangelical Christian, last week also signed into law anti-pornography and dress code legislation which outlaws "provocative" clothing, bans scantily-clad performers from Ugandan television and closely monitors what individuals watch on the Internet.