With just days left until the official end of Parliament on Wednesday, advocates and opponents of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, known widely as the “Kill the Gays” bill for its death penalty provision, delivered another day of testimony on Monday in which key proponent of the bill Martin Ssempa said the bill was needed because “homosexuality is killing our society.”
A retired Anglican bishop spoke out against the bill, refuting most strongly the accusation that homosexuals are recruiting in the country, as had been offered in Ssempa’s testimony on Friday.
From the Associated Press:
One of the bill’s backers, an anti-gay pastor named Martin Ssempa, told the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee on Monday that he does not support the death penalty provision. He said instead that gays should face up to seven years in prison.
“The parliament should be given the opportunity to discuss and pass the bill, because homosexuality is killing our society,” Ssempa told the committee.
Retired Anglican Bishop Christopher Senyonjo said the bill will not stop homosexuality but would instead turn Uganda into a police state and could increase the spread of HIV/AIDS because gay Ugandans would fear seeking treatment.
Senyonjo also disputed a common claim by backers of the anti-gay bill, who say school children are being recruited by gays.
“They naturally become so,” he said.
The AP also notes Stephen Tashobya, the head of the parliament committee where the bill currently rests, as saying that a report would be ready by Tuesday so that Parliament could take up the bill.
“Due to public demand the committee has decided to deal with bill. The bill has generated a lot of interest from members of the public and members of parliament and that is why we spared some time deal with before this parliament ends,” Tashobya is quoted as saying.
If the bill is taken up by Parliament it is expected to be fast-tracked through the hearings process and passed.
However, Dr Warren Throckmorton writes that, having spoken to Tashobya, the report may not be finished by Tuesday. Parliament ends Wednesday but is constitutionally in place until May 18 and therefore a special session could be called, though this would be a somewhat extraordinary move.
Also, several other pieces of legislation still require action, including procurement and company bills which appear to be front-runners for attention at this stage. That said, it is still conceivable for the Speaker to bring about a vote on the ‘Kill the Gays’ bill’ by Wednesday. Read more on that here.
An AllOut petition to President Yoweri Musevini asking that he veto the bill has gained over 20,000 signatures in the past two days. You can sign that petition here.
Our Care2 petition that sends your signatures directly to Stephen Tashobya, head of the parliament committee who is currently writing his report concerning testimony on the bill, can be signed below:
TAKE ACTION: SIGN THE PETITION TELLING UGANDAN LAWMAKERS TO ABANDON THE “KILL THE GAYS” BILL
To read more about the history of the bill, click here to view Care2′s past coverage.