Parliament passes stricter anti-gay law

Members of Parliament are seen during plenary on March 21, 2023 as the House debated the controversial anti-gay bill. PHOTO/HANDOUT

What you need to know:

  • At least 389 MPs attended in-person while about four-dozen others followed proceedings via Zoom as the House adopted the controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023.
  • That number is above the quorum of 176 MPs required to vote on the Bill.  
  • Shortly after the start of Tuesday's 6-hour-long plenary, ruling NRM party MP Fox Odoi led charges against passing the legislation.

Amidst minor in-House opposition, Parliament on Tuesday swiftly passed a legislation with stricter penalties for people engaged in same-sex activities in Uganda.

"This House will not shy to restrict any right to the extent of the House that recognizes, protects and safeguards the sovereignty, morals and culture of this country,” speaker Anita Among said after Parliament unanimously adopted the Bill.

Parliament Speaker Anita Among. PHOTO/FILE/HANDOUT

Activists have recently amplified voices blasting the Bill as “a human rights violation.”

"We recognize that the constitution contains non-derogable rights and in this process, the House has striven to recognize those rights...but the norms and aspirations of the people of Uganda will always remain supreme," Among emphasized.  

The fresh anti-gay law, which previously met a court nullification after it was lawed by President Museveni in 2014, returned to a nearly full 11th parliament on March 21 as 389 lawmakers were present in-person, with about 55 MPs following proceedings on Zoom technology. 

'Unconstitutional provisions'

A video grab of President Museveni addressing Parliament on March 16, 2023. PHOTO/HANDOUT

In what analysts termed as double-edged remarks, President Museveni March 16 branded gay people as “deviants” but noted that Tuesday’s amendments to the anti-gay law would be subjected to scientific findings.

“Is it by nature or by nurture? We need to answer those questions. We need a medical opinion on that,” he told Parliament in a unique address.

“We took note of his speech in tongues sounding without conclusion,” Leader of Opposition (LOP) Mathias Mpuuga said on Tuesday as he urged government to respect Parliament's latest anti-gay adoption. 

Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Mathias Mpuuga. PHOTO/HANDOUT

Shortly after the start of Tuesday's 6-hour-long plenary, ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party MP Fox Odoi had led charges against passing the legislation.

“It contains provisions that are unconstitutional, reverses the gains registered in the fight against gender-based violence and criminalizes individuals instead of conduct that contravenes legal provisions,” he said during plenary.

The Bill will now await President Museveni’s consent.