|Stephane Tchakam, Charge de Communication Pan Africa ILGA|
Uganda’s LGBTI activists fear that Uganda’s Anti Homosexuality Bill is all set to return in the current sitting of Parliament.
Activists told Behind the Mask the controversial bill “looks set to be passed in August this year after its postponement to the new parliamentary calendar.”
Joanitah Ogole Abang of Freedom and Roam Uganda said, “Yes, it’s been confirmed that the Bill will be passed this August,” he said.
Abang added, “We are still continuing with our lobbying of both the new and old camps as well as trying to get more MPs on our side. The Coalition is doing all it can to see to it that the Bill is not passed.”
The US researcher Professor Warren Throckmorton, whose interests include sexual orientation, posted on his blog: http://wthrockmorton.com/ that Ugandan Member of Parliament, Otto Odonga, said that the Bill wouldl be reintroduced as soon as possible, saying, “It will be expedited this time around and passed within one, maybe two months time.”
On May 13 this year the Bill was postponed to the new parliamentary session as Speaker, Edward Ssekandi dissolved the House in the run up to the Ugandan elections saying there was not enough time to debate the Bill.
When the Bill was postponed, human rights defenders and LGBTI activists hailed the postponement as a victory, many however expressed fears that the Bill might resurface.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill was introduced on October 14, 2009 by MP, David Bahati. It immediately sparked worldwide condemnation as one of its provisions states that anyone who commits the “offence of homosexuality will be liable to life imprisonment.”
The Bill further says that “aggravated homosexuality” will be punished by death and aims to ban all advocacy for homosexual rights.
The Bill was criticized by activists and human rights defenders around the world who said it was “unconstitutional and an infringement of basic human rights.”
In January last year following worldwide condemnation around the Bill and the Ugandan government, Yoweri Museveni, Ugandan President bowed to international pressure and cautioned those advocating for the Bill to “go slow”, saying the matter was a sensitive foreign policy issue.
Museveni also said while Ugandans should not allow their values to be compromised, they should equally not move ahead with the issue recklessly.
A Ugandan website, www. independent.co.ug also published several excerpts from the controversial US diplomatic cables released on Wikileaks indicating President Museveni’s interest in seeing the Bill go away, saying its provisions condemning consenting homosexual adults to life imprisonment or death were “unacceptable,” and that the Bill would be “significantly amended or perhaps shelved completely.”
The current Parliament, Uganda’s Ninth began in May 2011 and its tenure ends in May 2016.