Parliament passes the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023 with amendments to five clauses following proposals by President Yoweri Museveni.
While presiding over the House sitting on Tuesday, 02 May 2023, Speaker Anita Among commended the commitment of legislators in ensuring the protection of Uganda’s values and culture and urged them to stand firm on their decision.
“I want to urge the Members of Parliament to remain steadfast. No amount of intimidation will make us retract what we have done. Handouts or small envelopes should not be the ones to destroy you. The Western World will not come and rule Uganda,” said Among.
She urged the Attorney General to expeditiously present the Bill to the President for assent.
The Bill was first passed 21 March 2023 but was returned by the President.
The Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs reviewed the concerns and proposals made by the President regarding distinguishing between being a homosexual and actually engaging in acts of homosexuality.
The President said the law should be clear so that what is being criminalized is not the state of one having a deviant proclivity but rather the actions of one acting on the deviance or promoting the same.
The Committee Chairperson, Hon. Robina Rwakoojo said the President’s concerns were genuine and had been initially expressed by the committee in its report to the House.
“The committee recommends that Clauses 2 and 3 be amended to create further clarity on the purpose and intention of the Bill, which is to criminalize sexual acts committed by persons of the same sex rather than punishing a person based on their perceived sexuality or physical appearance,” Rwakoojo said.
The State Minister for Sports, Hon. Peter Ogwang urged MPs not to be intimidated by the Western World citing social media reports of plans to withdraw aid under the Ministry of Health meant to tackle HIV/AIDS in the county.
“Have they been giving us that aid for purposes of promoting homosexuality in Uganda? Studies have shown that homosexuals are the ones spreading AIDS. Friends, do not be shy. You were born to be in Uganda and we will remain Africans,” said Ogwang.
Hon. Nsaba Buturo (NRM, Bufumbira East County) said threats of withdraw of aid by international agencies can be addressed by fighting corruption.
“What we steal from ourselves is three times more than what we get from these arrogant people around the world. I appeal to the President and government to tackle this issue of corruption because it is rendering us unable to stand for the interest for our people,” Nsaba Buturo said.
The committee also recommended the merging of two sub-clauses under Clause 9 of the Bill that relates to owners of premises that may be reported to be used to commit the offence of homosexuality.
On the duty to report acts of homosexuality under Clause 14, the President expressed concern that the clause presented constitutional challenges and created unnecessary contradictions and duties which pose implementation challenges and conflicts in society.
The President recommended for deletion of clause 14 or in the alternative, to redraft it to restrict it to children and other vulnerable members of society as required in Article 17(1)(c) of the Constitution.
The committee, however, said clause 14 is relevant because it imposes a duty on a person who knows or has a reasonable suspicion that a person, has committed or intends to commit the offence of homosexuality, to report the matter to police for appropriate action.
“The committee recommends that Clause 14 of the Bill stand part of the Bill albeit with amendment to Clause 9(3) to create criminal sanctions against a person who does not report acts of homosexuality that are committed against children and other vulnerable persons,” said Rwakoojo.
The House passed a proposal by Hon. Jonathan Odur (UPC, Erute County South) on Clause to increase the imprisonment penalty from six months to five years.
A proposal by Hon. Fox Odoi (NRM, West Budama North East County) to delete the clauses cited by the President and subsequently, reject the entire Bill was rejected by MPs.
While presenting a minority report on the Bill, Odoi observed that the proposals by the President were insufficient to salvage the Bill.
The Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Mathias Mpuuga called on legislators to read and understand the Bill so that they can ably defend the country’s view of society and life.
“Do not take the law on its face value but understand it. Speak to our people because we owe ourselves the duty to preserve our culture and protect our children,” said Mpuuga.
He alluded to a meeting he attended in the United States where he challenged Africans there for struggling to defend the right to sexual orientation.
“I do not see them defending the transfer of knowledge in technology like the Chinese are doing. The black race is struggling to transfer homosexuality and not technology to Africa and I challenged these people on that,” Mpuuga added.