Govt could stop Gays Bill - minister

Friday January 8 2010

By Steven Wandera & Ben Jumbe

Ndorwa West MP David Bahati’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill may be withdrawn from Parliament following pressure from the international community, a senior government official has said.

Donor countries, including the United States, have piled pressure on the government to drop the proposed law, on grounds that it violates human rights.

The State Minister for Investments, Mr Aston Kajara, yesterday said the government was looking at the Bill with the possibility of withdrawing it. “The government’s official position is that we have enough laws to cover homosexuality acts,” Mr Kajara said. “Government did not sponsor this Bill. It is a private member’s Bill. The government is studying it and we may talk to the honourable Member of Parliament (David Bahati) to consider withdrawing it.”

In October 2009, Mr Bahati tabled the private member’s Bill that proposes death or life imprisonment for gay people. But the government tried to own the piece of legislation, with Ethics Minister Nsaba Buturo once telling reporters in Kampala that homosexuals “can forget about human rights”.

Mr Bahati denies being in a hate campaign, although he has failed to provide evidence to back claims that European gays are recruiting in Ugandan schools. The Penal Code Act already criminalises homosexuality.

On one account, President Museveni has assured US authorities that he would veto the Bill. This comes a day after the State Minister for International Affairs Okello Oryem insisted that the government is not bothered by foreign criticism because homosexuality is not a priority. in Uganda.