Bishops want shelved anti-gay Bill dusted

Sunday June 10 2012

By John Tugume

Top religious leaders from across the country have asked Parliament to speed-up the process of enacting the Anti-Homosexuality law to prevent what they called “an attack on the Bible and the institution of marriage”.

Speaking after their recent annual conference organised by the Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC), an ecumenical body which brings together the Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox churches, the bishops resolved that the parliamentary committee on Gender should be tasked to engage the House on the Bill which is now at committee level.

“We also ask the Education committee to engage the Ministry of Education on the issue of incorporating a topic on human sexuality in the curricula of our schools and institutions of learning,” the resolutions signed by archbishops Henry Luke Orombi, Cyprian Kizito Lwanga and Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga, indicated.

The clerics also appealed to all the churches in the country “to remain steadfast in opposing the phenomena of homosexuality, lesbianism and same-sex union”.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill was proposed by Ndorwa West PM David Bahati and has become a subject of international discussion with most Western powers describing the Bill as barbaric.

But Mr Bahati denied being cowed down by the West.


“The Bill is at committee level and hopefully it will soon be brought back to the House for discussion. We are determined to fight to the end,” Mr Bahati said.

The contentious Bill is one of the 23 that were shelved during the eighth Parliament, with some members voting to push them to the next House.
Dr Sylvia Tamale, an outspoken pro-gay activist and Makerere University don, said her views “against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill have never changed”.

“I think it is unconstitutional and pursuing it is diversionary as it distracts us from the important issues that the average Ugandan really cares about,” she said on Friday in an email to Sunday Monitor.

The anti-gay Bill has seen ups and downs with donors and international activists threatening to withhold aid should it be let to pass.
Among some of the propositions in the Bill was one of death and life sentence for those for those caught engaging in homosexuality for a second time.

However, Mr Bahati said these penalties had since been removed from the Bill.

At the same conference, the bishops reiterated their role in politics saying, “the church has a biblical mandate to challenge policies and practices that perpetuate injustice, marginalisation or inequality.”

They said they were deeply concerned by the high level of corruption in the public sector and the apparent laxity by the authorities in addressing the issue of corruption decisively.

And the Executive was not let out by the bishops. The clerics pointed out their concern “about the over-bearing nature of the Executive arm of government and use of patronage in the management of public affairs.”

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, in a speech read for her by Mr Bahati, said: “The church must discern where and when the State is being positive or negative in the life of a nation and should always not hesitate to encourage the good and denounce the bad.”