European Parliament castigates Uganda's anti-gay Bill

Members of Parliament debate the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023, before they passed it during a session at Parliament on March 21. PHOTOS/DAVID LUBOWA

The European Parliament has castigated Uganda’s anti-gay Act that President Museveni last week returned to the House for further scrutiny.

In their April 20 statement, the European MPs expressed deep concerns about the likely discrimination and persecution against homosexuals, should the Act be signed into law, before calling upon President Museveni to refrain from assenting to it.

The MPs went on to urge the European Commission to use all the necessary diplomatic, legal, and financial means to convince Mr Museveni not to accept the law.

“…Calls on Uganda President Yoweri Museveni not to promulgate the Bill and to categorically refuse to give assent to any similar initiative in future, dissuading further attempts in this direction; urges the Uganda authorities to promote the principles of tolerance, acceptance, and respect for human rights and to review any law criminalising homosexuality,” reads in part the statement.

“Calls on the Commission and the European External Action Service to use all necessary diplomatic, legal and financial means at its disposal to convince the Ugandan President to refrain from signing the Bill passed by Ugandan Parliament; further calls on the EU to make full and effective use of the political dialogue…” the statement further reads.

Going forward, the European Parliament has warned that should the anti-homosexuality piece of legislation be signed into law, they will call upon Everything But Arms (EBA) preferences for Uganda in accordance with Article 19 of Regulation of EU.

They also warn of targeting and instituting sanctions against all those who instigated and supported the anti-gay Bill, including politicians, and religious leaders.

The overwhelming passing of the Bill by parliament last month, has since attracted both cheers and condemnation from the local and global communities.

The law introduces strict penalties, including death for aggravated homosexuality, as well as imprisonment of up to 20 years for acts of homosexuality, promoting homosexuality, child grooming, and promotion of homosexuality.

Key partners such as the UN and the US, local and international human rights bodies, have described the same Bill as discriminatory and regressive, with calls to President Museveni not to assent to it.

Equally, the Uganda Law Society in their recently released quarterly rule of the law report, said the anti-gay legislation replicates existing provisions before urging relevant stakeholders to dialogue more and give careful consideration to rule out the several constitutional concerns it presents.

Last week on Thursday, President Museveni met the ruling party MPs to discuss the controversial piece of legislation. At the end of the meeting, it was agreed that President Museveni sends it back to Parliament for some “improvements”.