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MPs, religious leaders hit back at Museveni on anti-gays Bill

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By FREDERIC MUSISI

Posted  Sunday, December 29  2013 at  02:00

In Summary

Some lawmakers say the President has been hearing about the Bill during NRM party retreats but never raised any objection.

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KAMPALA

A cross section of religious leaders and Members of Parliament have accused President Museveni of aiming to “buy time” and capitulating to pressure from donors by refusing to sign the anti-gays law.

The stakeholders told the Sunday Monitor that the legislation has been in place for five years; long enough for the President to study it and make submissions as “he deems fit” so he should stop “fooling the country”.

MP Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga County) said the Bill was deliberated several times during NRM Caucus meetings and in party retreats at Kyankwanzi, but the President never raised any objection.

“What was he thinking all along?” Mr Ssekikubo wondered, “It’s his lack of decisiveness that prompted Parliament to pass the Bill because we couldn’t sit there and look on as morals increasingly breaking down.”

The legislation was passed last week on Friday by Parliament, and it provides for a sentence of life imprisonment for anyone convicted of homosexuality.

A proposal to put the punishment to 14 years in jail was rejected by the House. But the President was quoted in a statement from State House on Christmas Day, saying he will first go through the specifics and if he finds that “it is not right” he would send it back to Parliament.

Kalungu West MP Joseph Ssewungu said Mr Museveni is going astray because “there is no law in this country that justifies a Private Members Bill to first go to him for consultation”.
“He should stop fooling us. The Bill was first of all moved by the NRM deputy Chief Whip (David Bahati) and in all these retreats, the President should have begged him not to bring it up for debate,” Mr Ssewungu noted.

In a telephone conversation with the Sunday Monitor, the Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) executive secretary, the Rev Dr Silvester Arinaitwe, also voiced concerns about the widespread “sodomy in society” the law seeks to address.

“As religious leaders, we were consulted in 2009 when it [the Bill] first came up and we advised to drop the clause on death penalty and life imprisonment and since then, we have not been engaged again. But if these clauses were dropped or revised then I don’t see any other reason for not signing the Bill,” he added.

Women views
Ms Alice Alaso, the Serere Woman MP, accused the President of “being diversionary and bowing to pressure from donors to let moral values in the country drop to zero”. Pastor Martin Ssempa of Makerere Community Church and a renowned anti-homosexual activist, said Mr Museveni is trying to deflect hostilities and pressure from donors. MPs Robinah Nabanja, (Kibaale, Woman, NRM) and Katoto Hatwib (Katerera County, NRM), said the President should sign the Bill.

musisif@ug.nationmedia.com