Uganda MPs seek to pass anti-gay bill as 'Christmas gift'

Friday December 5 2014

Gay activist Jaqueline Kasha (in purple shirt) consults with an unidentified man during a court session when Ugandan constitutional court judges nullified the anti-homosexuality law in August 2014.

Gay activist Jaqueline Kasha (in purple shirt) consults with an unidentified man during a court session when Ugandan constitutional court judges nullified the anti-homosexuality law in August 2014. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By ISAAC IMAKA

KAMPALA
Members of Uganda's parliament have reignited the push for the reintroduction and passing of the anti-homosexual Bill, with calls to pass it as a Christmas gift for the people of Uganda.

Raising a point of national importance, Kawempe North representative Latif Ssebagala — who described himself as a chief mobiliser of MPs who cherish Ugandan values, norms and religious beliefs — said the legislators were ready to pass the Bill before the House adjourns for Christmas.

He challenged the Speaker to explain to the House the status of the Bill and what had become of the committee that was set up to harmonise its contents.

“What can we do to restart the Bill so that we assure our people that we have never backtracked? I have 256 signatures and I have kept them long enough. I want to lay them on (the) table so that they become (the) property of this Parliament,” Mr Ssebagala said.

“The ultimate problem is for us to go (on) recess without handling this Bill. It is us MPs who did not do our work. Since we are nearing Christmas and the New Year, we can as well give it as a gift to the people,” he said.

The number of signatures shot to 261 after five lawmakers requested the Speaker to allow them to sign from the clerk's table in the House because “they were away when the signature book was being passed around”.

ABOUT NEW BILL
In contrast to the nullified Act, the new draft Bill, a copy of which the Daily Monitor has seen, avoids any explicit references to homosexuality, but seems to co-opt sections of the Penal Code, which prescribes, among others, a life sentence for “unnatural sexual practices”.

Unnatural sexual practices are defined in the Bill as sexual acts between persons of the same sex, or with or between transsexual persons, a sexual act with an animal and anal sex.

The proposed legislation also expands the definition of “promotion of unnatural sexual practices” and proposes a prison sentence of up to seven years for the promotion of homosexuality.