Tuesday January 7 2014

NRM to review anti-gays Bill - PM

Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi (R) and Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa pose for a group photo with a cross section of  Uganda’s Ambassadors at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs offices in Kampala yesterday.

Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi (R) and Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa pose for a group photo with a cross section of Uganda’s Ambassadors at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs offices in Kampala yesterday. COURTESY Photo. 



In the midst of a blitz of international criticism, Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi yesterday told Uganda’s foreign envoys in Kampala that the ruling party’s Caucus in parliament will review (or veto) the Anti-Homosexuality Bill passed by parliament late last year before the President finally assents to it—sign it into law.

Responding to a question asked by Uganda’s Ambassador to Canada, Alintuma Nsamba on how Uganda’s mission in Western countries should deal with the homosexuality question following the passing of the Bill, Mr Mbabazi said although he does not support homosexuality, Parliament should not have passed such a legislation in its current form. He said: “Before (the President) assenting to it, this matter (the legislation) will be taken to the Movement caucus which will advise accordingly before the Presidents signs it.”

Earlier, President Museveni, who is supposed to assent to the Bill was quoted in a State House statement issued on Christmas Day saying that before assenting to The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, he would first go through the specifics, adding that if he finds that “it is not right” he would send it back to Parliament.

Parliament, which was in upbeat mood, debated and overwhelmingly passed the Bill which criminalises sexual intercourse between same-sex partners.

The legislation provides for a sentence of life imprisonment for anyone convicted of homosexuality, which covers gays and lesbians. According to the new law, a person commits homosexuality if he penetrates the anus or mouth of another person of the same sex with his penis or any other sexual device.

When contacted yesterday, the proposer of the Bill, the Ndorwa West MP, Mr David Bahati, said: “All I can say is that Parliament considered and passed a good legislation that will protect the children, the family and the interest of the people (Ugandans). He continued: “This legislation will stop promotion of such vices and protect our children from being drawn in it.”

The Clerk of Parliament, Ms Jane Kibirige told the Daily Monitor yesterday that Parliament has no business with the NRM caucus decision on the legislation. She said: “ We are concerned with what happened in Parliament and not the NRM caucus. What we are doing now is preparing the Bill for the President to assent to.”

Meanwhile, Mr Mbabazi also told the envoys attending the Biennial Ambassadors’ Conference whose theme is: “The Role of Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Socio-economic Transformation of Uganda in line with Vision 2040, that government is focused in transforming the country into a modern and prosperous country within 30 years. He said government expects all its Ambassadors and High Commissioners to be fully knowledgeable of Uganda’s political and socio-economic conditions and strategic issues in relation to where they have been accredited.

“We, therefore, expect you to market, promote and popularise Uganda’s aspirations as contained in Vision 2040. You should be able to interpret Vision 2040 for prospective investors and tourists, and mobilise external resources from development partners and Ugandans in the Diaspora,” he said. He also cautioned what he termed as negative elements in the Diaspora who he said are increasingly propagating falsehoods aimed at projecting the President and the NRM leadership as Uganda’s problem.

He added that such elements highlight corruption, torture of the opposition, political transition, the public order management legislation, and the recently passed the Homosexuality Bill as areas where Government’s efforts are wanting.

Background to the bill

The Bill had proposed a death penalty for offenders but the clause was later dropped after the international community and human rights defenders piled pressure on government. The Speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, referred to the passing of the Bill as a Christmas gift to Ugandans. In October 2012, UK Prime Minister David Cameron warned African countries that those receiving British aid should respect gay rights. But presidential adviser John Nagenda, in response to Mr Cameron, told the BBC that Ugandans were “tired of these lectures” and should not be treated like “children.”