Lawmakers welcome fresh anti-homosexuality Bill

Bugiri Municipality Member of Parliament, Asuman Basalirwa during the plenary session at Parliament in Kampala, on February 28, 2023. PHOTO/DAVID LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • The move comes nine years after the constitutional court nullified a similar Bill passed in late 2013. 

Parliament yesterday granted the Bugiri Municipality MP, Mr  Asuman Basalirwa, leave to process the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023 that will prohibit same-sex relationships in Uganda. 
His motion was seconded by Mr Jonathan Odur (Erute County South) and Mr Charles Onen (Gulu East).
The law being processed is however not entirely new as Mr Basalirwa intends to revisit and polish the contents of the Bill of 2014 that was quashed by the Constitutional Court.
“Precisely we are bringing back that same Bill. We will make a few modifications because of the changing circumstances and situations and the realities on the ground,” Mr Basalirwa told this publicationn  yesterday.

As she commenced the plenary session after a two-week-long-recess, the Speaker of Parliament, Ms Anita Among, re-echoed plans thmat had been stated at an event  in the morning. 

“Friends, we are in an environment that is not deserving as people for this country,” Ms Among told the congregation at the joint ecumenical thanksgiving service at Parliament yesterday.
In specific terms, Ms Among decried what she termed as escalating same-sex orientation and homosexuality elements in the country and revealed the House’s plans to draft a law against the practice. 
“We want to appreciate our promoters of homosexuality for the socio-economic development they have brought to the country, ...but we don’t appreciate the money that they are bringing to destroy our culture. We don’t need their money, we need our cultures,” Ms Among said.
She added: “As an institution that passes the laws in this country, tomorrow (Wednesday) we are going to bring a Bill on anti-homosexuality.”
On August 1, 2014, five justices of the Constitutional Court nullified the Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014 due to lack of quorum in Parliament on December 20, 2013 when it was passed.

They unanimously ruled that the then Speaker Rebecca Kadaga  did not first ascertain whether there was quorum before putting the issue to a vote. 
But Ms Among said the plenary session that will debate and vote on the passing of the said Bill will do so by raising their hands to address the issue of quorum.
“You are either for homosexuality or you are against (it). We want to see the kind of leaders we have in this country and I want to promise you, we will stand by that. Let us be the light that will show people that this is what shouldn’t be done. What ought to be done should be done in the right way,” Ms Among said.

How Uganda’s anti-gay law fell through in 2014
She added: “We must be counted. We don’t want anybody who will come and go behind us and start going for those Western World monies. We want to be counted. ”
 Ms Among urged all leaders, including clerics, to accord Parliament the due support in processing the proposed law.
“I want to appeal to the religious leaders that this time round, we need to see who is who. We will not allow an aspect of saying that there is an aspect of quorum, now we are going to vote by show of hands. You are either for homosexuality or you are against,” Ms Among demanded of officials in leadership.
Mr Basalirwa expressed confidence that the Bill will become law as opposed to the one of 2014.

“Fortunately, each of us comes from a constituency and we are able to feel and hear the sentiments of the people they represent. If you went to any part of this country and attended a religious or traditional function, the messages across are clear [because] the religious council has spoken and traditional leaders. So who is this member of Parliament who is not sensitive to the voices of the people that they represent?” Mr Basalirwa said.
Even when he declined to divulge the details of his Bill, Mr Basalirwa told this publication that his Bill will focus on curing the glitches that were noted in the 2014 Bill.
He indicated that his Bill will, among others, incorporate some of the penalties that were catered for in the previous Bill.
 The draft tabled yesterday prescribes life imprisonment for persons who will be found guilty of homosexuality, aggravated homosexuality, and persons who attempt to commit homosexuality.

 Mr Basalirwa also stated his Bill proposes a seven-year jail term for people who aid and abet homosexuality, those who conspire to engage in the act, and also those found to be procuring homosexuality.
With a fear that the promoters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, queer and another diversity (LGBTQ+) community in the country are heavily financed, Mr Basalirwa proposes that conduits such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) should strictly be monitored through legislation such as the Anti Money Laundering Law.
He said: “If there are organisations out there that are known for financing these practices, then those organisations must be blacklisted.”
The same draft seeks to protect, and provide for compensation of victims of homosexuality.

Govt support?
When asked about whether government had plans on presenting a Bill to tackle the same, the Attorney General, Mr Kiryowa Kiwanuka, referred this publication to the Minister of Ethics and Integrity,  Ms Rose Lilly Akello.  “You need to put that question to the Ethics and integrity Minister because for me, I am on the receiving end,” Mr Kiryowa said.
Ms Akello was, however, unavailable for a comment by press time.  
Efforts to reach the Minister for Information, Communication and Technology, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, were also futile as repeated calls and messages to his known number went unanswered.
 But during celebrations  to mark  Janani Luwum Day in Kitgum on February 16, President Museveni told the West that Uganda would not embrace homosexuality. .
 Archbishop of the Church of Uganda Samuel Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu, who had since late last year rallied leaders to tackle homosexuality in the country,  welcomed the President’s stance. But he asked the government  to review the Bill  that was quashed in 2014. No clear position ever emerged on the religious leader’s request.