Drama in the House as Parliament amends, passes Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023

Parliament has on Tuesday amended clauses and passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023 that was returned to the house by the President last week.

Legislators made amendments to five clauses as proposed by the President Yoweri Museveni.

The Speaker of Parliament presided over a moderately full house that participated in the second voting. Members of Parliament on Cabinet were also not spared the vote as they had to do via zoom technology.

The Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Chairperson, Hon. Robinah Rwakoojo said the President’s concerns were previously expressed by the committee in its report to the House.

“The committee recommends that Clauses 2 and 3 be amended to create further clarity on the purpose and intention of the Bill, which is to criminalize sexual acts committed by persons of the same sex rather than punishing a person based on their perceived sexuality or physical appearance,” Rwakoojo said.

The committee also recommended that the two sub-clauses under Clause 9 of the Bill relating to owners of premises who house homosexuals.

Drama in the House as Parliament amends, passes Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023

On reporting acts of homosexuality under Clause 14 and 15 the President stated that the two clauses contradicted each other.

The President recommended for deletion of clause 14 or in the alternative, to redraft it to restrict it to children and other vulnerable members of society as required in Article 17(1)(c) of the Constitution.

The committee, however, said clause 14 is relevant because it imposes a duty on a person who knows or has a reasonable suspicion that a person, has committed or intends to commit the offence of homosexuality, to report the matter to police for appropriate action.

“The committee recommends that Clause 14 of the Bill stand part of the Bill albeit with amendment to Clause 9(3) to create criminal sanctions against a person who does not report acts of homosexuality that are committed against children and other vulnerable persons,” said Rwakoojo.

The House passed a proposal by Hon. Jonathan Odur (UPC, Erute County South) on the Clause to increase the imprisonment penalty from six months to five years.

Hon. Fox Odoi (NRM, West Budama North East County) proposed that parliament deletes the clauses cited by the President but this was rejected by MPs. He even voted NO.

There was a battle of words in the August House as the Speaker warned the office of the Attorney General against stabbing parliament in the back and making the institution look misrepresented.

The Speaker stated that the office of the Attorney General was dishonest and cast parliament in bad light when they first advised that the bill is passed.

Among stated to the Deputy AG Jackson Kafuuzi ” We are talking about the dishonesty of the office of the Attorney General”

”We cannot agree in the house, you concede. You are supposed to be our legal advisor but you misguide us instead. Actually you misguide and misrepresent us before the executive. That makes the House dirty.”

Kafuuzi interjected :”I understand the mood with which we passed this law, and when someone expresses disappointment that I spoke to the President. My role is to advise the president.

The Speaker asked for clarity, saying the AG wrote to both the Speaker’s office and the President saying ”Agree that you wrote to the President and the Speaker. “

He replied ‘let me speak’

This didn’t go down well with the Speaker who ordered him to ”keep quiet and sit.”

She said amidst claps from legislators; “sit, Hon Kafuuzi, there is only one speaker and you will listen to me. In fact your office will not be allowed to advise on any bill under my leadership”

She urged the Attorney General to expeditiously present the Bill to the President for assent.

The Bill was first passed 21 March 2023 but was returned by the President.  
The Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs reviewed the concerns and proposals made by the President regarding distinguishing between being a homosexual and actually engaging in acts of homosexuality.

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Drama in the House as Parliament amends, passes Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023