(CNN) — After signing an anti-homosexuality bill into law, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni called homosexuals “disgusting” in an interview with CNN.
Museveni told CNN’s Zain Verjee on Monday that, in his view, being homosexual is unnatural and not a human right.
“They’re disgusting. What sort of people are they?” he said. “I never knew what they were doing. I’ve been told recently that what they do is terrible. Disgusting. But I was ready to ignore that if there was proof that that’s how he is born, abnormal. But now the proof is not there.”
Museveni signed the bill into law at a public event Monday. The bill was introduced in 2009 and originally included a death penalty clause for some homosexual acts.
The nation’s Parliament passed the bill in December, replacing the death penalty provision with a proposal of life in prison for “aggravated homosexuality.” This includes acts in which one person is infected with HIV, “serial offenders” and sex with minors, according to Amnesty International.
Museveni also told CNN that the West should not force its beliefs onto Ugandans.
“Respect African societies and their values,” he said. “If you don’t agree, just keep quiet. Let us manage our society, then we will see. If we are wrong, we shall find out by ourselves, just the way we don’t interfere with yours.”
The White House press secretary issued a statement Monday: “Instead of standing on the side of freedom, justice, and equal rights for its people, today, regrettably, Ugandan President Museveni took Uganda a step backward by signing into law legislation criminalizing homosexuality.”
The statement continued: “As President Obama has said, this law is more than an affront and a danger to the gay community in Uganda, it reflects poorly on the country’s commitment to protecting the human rights of its people and will undermine public health, including efforts to fight HIV/AIDS. We will continue to urge the Ugandan government to repeal this abhorrent law and to advocate for the protection of the universal human rights of LGBT persons in Uganda and around the world.”
Attitudes against homosexuality are prevalent in Uganda. A 2013 report from Pew Research found that 96% of Ugandans believe society should not accept homosexuality.
By Elizabeth Landau. Zain Verjee and Antonia Mortensen
CNN’s Zain Verjee and Antonia Mortensen reported from Kampala, Uganda. Elizabeth Landau wrote from Atlanta. CNN’s Faith Karimi, Nick Thompson and Yousuf Basil contributed to this report.