Sunday September 8 2013

Bishop calls for passing of anti-gay Bill

By Richard Otim & Stephen Otage

Monitor Correspondent

A senior cleric in the Anglican Church has asked Parliament to expedite the passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill to regulate the growing practice of homosexuality in the country.

Bishop Emeritus for Bukedi Diocese Nicodemus Okile, who retired last year after 28 years of services on Friday accused Members of Parliament of debating issues of less serious consequences at the expense of matters with moral implications on the citizens. “The issue of homosexuality has been shelved. Members of Parliament should learn to deal with one issue at a time instead of haphazardly debating on matters,” Bishop Okile said.

The bishop was speaking at the burial of Soroti Anglican Diocese Bishop Emeritus Geresom Ilukor at St Stephen Church in Kumi District. He called upon legislators to expedite formulation of the law to curb spread of gay influence among the youth.

“What about the Bill on homosexuality. Why has it gone silent?” Bishop Okile asked. Bishop Ilukor was bitten by a snake at his home in Kidongole, Bukedea last Friday evening.

He was taken to Mbale Referral Hospital for treatment, where he was pronounced dead last Sunday morning. The bishop was variously described as a peace maker, an educationist and a patriot. He was hailed for championing development in Teso region, restoration of peace and unity.

Anti-gay Bill
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which was tabled by MP David Bahati, proposes longer jail terms for homosexual acts, including a life sentence in certain circumstances. In its original form, those convicted of “aggravated homosexuality” - defined as when one of the participants is a minor, HIV-positive, disabled or a “serial offender” - faced the death penalty. Such offences would now be punished with life imprisonment.

The Bill was strongly condemned by Western leaders, including US President Barack Obama, who described it as “odious”. International donors have threatened to cut off aid to Uganda if the country does not do more to protect the rights of gay people.

Last year, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga was involved in a row with Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird over gay rights at a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Quebec.