What you need to know:
Carefully woven. The new Bill avoids any explicit references to homosexuality, but co-opts sections of the Penal Code.
KAMPALA: Drafting of a new Bill which could broaden the scope of anti-homosexuality legislation to include promotion of the practice is in advanced stages, sources said yesterday.
The Bill is expected to replace the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which was signed by President Museveni in February, but expunged off Uganda’s law books by the Constitutional Court, saying Parliament lacked a quorum when it was passed.
A committee comprising several MPs, including Kawempe South MP Latif Ssebalgala, Vice President Edward Ssekandi and David Bahati (author of the previous Anti-Homosexual Act), has been meeting since August over the proposed law.
Mr Ssebagala told Daily Monitor this week their committee is finalising the draft which should be presented to the public before Christmas.
“The new proposal is following the common thread of The Anti-Homosexuality Act. The only differences are minor changes in the use of words,” he said.
In contrast to the nullified Act, the new Bill avoids any explicit references to homosexuality, but seems to co-opt sections of the Penal Code, which prescribe, among others, a life sentence for “unnatural sexual practices.”
Unnatural sexual practices are defined in the draft Bill as a sexual act between persons of the same sex, or with or between transsexual persons, a sexual act with an animal and anal sex.
The proposed legislation also expands the definition of “promotion of unnatural sexual practices” and proposes a prison sentence of up to seven years for the promotion of homosexuality.
Funding for purposes of “promoting unnatural sexual practice” and protecting, housing or transporting homosexuals can also result in imprisonment of up to 10 years.
Ever since the Constitutional Court nullified the previous law, it has been a top priority for a section of MPs to reintroduce it.
Mr Bahati was hesitant to comment on the new Bill but maintained his position that the anti-homosexual laws should be implemented to protect “children of Uganda from being abused and recruited by homosexuals.”
Opposition Chief Whip Cecilia Ogwal (Dokolo Woman, FDC) agreed that homosexuality should not be tolerated in Uganda.
“As long as homosexuals target and take advantage of our children and vulnerable people, the Opposition will support an anti-gay law presented to us,” she told Daily Monitor.
She said Opposition MPs, who previously voted in favour of the anti-homosexual act, would not stand in the way of a similar law.
Mr Frank Mugisha, founder of Sexual Minorities Uganda, told this newspaper homosexuals living in Uganda can expect renewed pressure.
“During the period when the law was in place, we experienced a steep increase in violent attacks and discrimination - not only from the police, but also from the surrounding community,” he said.
Mr Mugisha said expanding the definition of “promotion of unnatural sexual practices” will make it extremely difficult for his organisation to operate.
“Even my Facebook and Twitter accounts might get me arrested, since I am writing about homosexuality. With this legislation newspapers and media outlets could also get in trouble if they publish stories about homosexuality.”
Explicit references. The new Bill avoids any explicit references to homosexuality, but co-opt sections of the Penal Code, which prescribe, among others, a life sentence for “unnatural sexual practices.
Expanded definition. The new Bill also expands the definition of the promotion of unnatural sexual practices and proposes a prison sentence of up to seven years for the promotion of homosexuality.
Imprisonment. Funding for purposes of promoting unnatural sexual practice and protecting, housing or transporting homosexuals can also result in imprisonment of up to 10 years.