Legislators reject EAC sexuality bill

Parliamentarians are seen during an August 4 afternoon's Plenary sitting. PHOTO/HANDOUT

What you need to know:

  • But some MPs argued that the Bill gives overwhelming authority to a health professional to decide when to terminate an abortion and this could be used as a loophole for abuse.

Ugandan lawmakers yesterday asked East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) country representatives to reject the proposed Sexuality and Reproductive Health Bill that, among others, seeks to promote sex education in schools, homosexuality, and legalise abortion.
The chairperson of the Parliamentary Forum on Ethics and Integrity, Mr James Nsaba Buturo, said:

“The Bill is clever. It is not talking about homosexuality directly, but when you read the consequences of the policies, they are supporting sex education in schools and when it is unpackaged, it allows for the legalisation of abortion, homosexuality and exposing our learners to strange things,” Mr Buturo said.

He added: “They are going to be our voices in EALA and they should specifically go there and say no to this Bill which is directly promoting things that are illegal in our country.”

The private members’ Bill was drafted by Dr Odette Nyiramilimo, a Rwandan representative at EALA in 2017.

The Bill states that a woman may terminate a pregnancy if a health professional suggests that there is a need for emergency treatment, if the pregnancy endangers the mental or physical health or the life of the woman, in case of sexual assault, rape, and incest or as may be permitted by the law of a partner State. 

But some MPs argued that the Bill gives overwhelming authority to a health professional to decide when to terminate an abortion and this could be used as a loophole for abuse.

The Bill adds that every person in the region is entitled to and shall receive post-abortion care and treatment as a healthy and life-saving medical intervention, notwithstanding the legality of the abortion or attempted abortion. 

Article 4 of the Bill states that “Every person shall enjoy their sexual and reproductive health rights and the services provided for by this Act without discrimination on the basis of their nationality, race, ethnic group, colour, sex, age, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status recognised by the Constitution of a partner state or the community”.

“This means a man [marry] with a fellow man since it is his right. We shall see gays in this country once this law is passed,” Mr James Kakooza, Uganda’s EALA representative, said.

He added: “I will make sure this does not see the light of the day.”
Burundi has rejected the proposed Bill but other countries have expressed mixed reactions on the matter.

Mr Dennis Namara, the EALA legislator and chairperson of the Committee on General Purpose,  said they will present the report before September.

“If many people say we reject the Bill, of course, we shall go with that. But I assure you that most of the EALA members are against this Bill. I am also against it because it contravenes the values and customs of the country,” Mr Namara said.

Issue 

Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda after President Museveni assented to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in February 2014, which made it an offence for whoever was found guilty.

Abortion is also illegal in Uganda. In the Constitution, there are conditions under which a pregnancy can be terminated. Article 22(2) provides that no one has the right to terminate an unborn child except if it’s authorised by the law.

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