Reports in the international media have suggested that Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 is dead after a lawyer for the Ugandan Cabinet rejected the bill as unnecessary. However, the bill remains under the control of the 9th parliament and as such is very much still active.
Uganda’s Daily Monitor reported on Monday that under the advice of Mr Adolf Mwesige, a lawyer working on behalf of the ruling party, the Ugandan Cabinet rejected the “Kill the Gays” bill:
The decision to throw out the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was made at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday where Mr Mwesige, according to sources, told ministers that the Bill was unnecessary since government has a number of laws in place criminalising homosexual activities.
However David Bahati, the author of the “Kill the Gays” bill — so called because of its death penalty provision for repeat offenders — hit back saying the legislation, which was carried over to the 9th Parliament after lawmakers were unable to pass the bill in the previous session, fell under the jurisdiction of Parliament and thus it was Parliament that would decide the bill’s fate.
Indeed, as Dr. Warren Throckmorton points out, Cabinet ministers also rejected the bill in 2010 and urged officials to instead concern themselves with enforcing existing rules against homosexuality (which cover unnatural carnal knowledge and are already quite severe). By that time the bill had been handed off to the legal and parliamentary affairs committee and remained in play even after the cabinet’s call for dismissal and, notably, after reports suggested the bill had been “shelved.” A parliamentary spokesperson has now confirmed to Throckmorton that the bill remains under the jurisdiction of Parliament and that Cabinet ministers and lawmakers will have to “argue it out” on the parliament floor.
Ugandan lawmakers are currently consumed by budget talks, but once the budget is agreed upon the Kill the Gays bill could be acted on rather swiftly. Early reports suggested the legislation may come up in late August. Others suggest November has been ear-marked for parliamentary attention.
Last year, the international community was perhaps lulled into a false sense of victory after reports suggested the bill had been shelved. However, the legislation narrowly missed being passed by the 8th Parliament due only to a procedural oversight that meant lawmakers ran out of time in which to debate the bill. With the 9th Parliament having carried over the bill and seeming keen to pass the legislation it would appear that, while the Cabinet’s rejection of the bill may perhaps slow progress, Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” legislation remains very much in play.
Author of the bill David Bahati vowed in a comment made to the Daily Monitor, “The future of this country’s children will be determined by the peoples’ representatives in Parliament.”