Bahati says he’s willing to amend gays Bill

Thursday January 21 2010

By John Tugume

The brain behind the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, MP David Bahati, says he can amend the proposed law but “without putting the values of the country at risk”. In an interview with Daily Monitor yesterday after meeting the Cabinet on the matter, Mr Bahati said: “I cannot discuss what happened in cabinet. They are going to meet me and we discuss some amendments but the process of legislation continues.”

Before the meeting, the Ndorwa West MP had told this newspaper that he was ready to listen to the ministers’ input but added that being a Private Member’s Bill, they would not do much to it although “if they want to amend some clauses, I can do it”.

When contacted, Information Minister Kabakumba Masiko said they had decided to form a sub-committee to discuss the Bill and “see if we can amend it”.
“The sub-committee will be headed by Attorney General Khidu Makubuya but being a Private Member’s Bill and a property of Parliament, the process of legislation must continue. But the government will suggest amendments,” Ms Masiko said.

Other members on the sub-committee include Regional Affairs State Minister Isaac Musumba, Education Minister Namirembe Bitamazire, Gender Minister Gabriel Opiyo and the Ethics Minister, Dr James Nsaba Buturo.
The Bill suggests that anyone found guilty of involvement in homosexual activities should be jailed for seven years while those involved in aggravated homosexuality should be sentenced to death.

Criticised Bill
The suggested law has drawn criticism across the world with some countries like the US, Canada and Sweden threatening to withdraw their aid to Uganda should it become law. However, a section of MPs have vowed to stand by Mr Bahati, saying those countries have no right to interfere with Uganda’s sovereignty and thus should let the legislators do their work without any influence.

Now the cabinet sub-committee has a duty of convincing Mr Bahati to remove such clauses since he says “the possibility of withdrawing it is very minimal”. President Museveni told a recent NRM meeting in Entebbe that MPs should go slow on the Bill because it has implications on the country’s foreign policy.