The Ugandan Parliament has granted leave to introduce a private member’s Bill titled the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023—the Bill.
Proposed by Bugiri Municipality Member of Parliament, Hon. Asuman Basalirwa seeks to prohibit any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex and prohibit the promotion or recognition of such relations.
The proposed bill follows recent conspiracy theories accusing shadowy international forces of promoting homosexuality in Uganda.
During the motion, Basalirwa referred to homosexuality as a “cancer” eating up the world and urged legislators to join in ensuring the establishment of a law to curb it. Basalirwa reminded the Parliament that it had passed the Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014 on 20 December 2013, nullified by the Constitutional Court citing a lack of necessary quorum of lawmakers to vote on the Bill. “This House had an opportunity to correct the anomaly then, but it was lost. We now have another opportunity to follow all the procedures to have a law in place,” he said.
While chairing the House, Speaker Anita Among reiterated a call to MPs to stand firm and vote for a law that will act against the vice which she said is a threat to society. “This vice has persisted and the people who are suffering are our children. We must stand up and be counted as Parliament. We need to have a law in place as regards homosexuality,” Among said.
Hon. Charles Onen (Indep., Laroo-Pece Division) cited vision Uganda 2040 that has a goal to ensure Uganda has a healthy and productive population, which is at risk of homosexuality. “The issue at hand is a public secret and we need to treat this as an act of terror on our children. The essence of humanity is preservation of life, which is only guaranteed through procreation,” said Onen.
The proposed Bill has received criticism from Western governments and aid agencies working in Uganda which are routinely accused of promoting homosexuality in the East African nation. In recent weeks, online conspiracy theories conflating child sexual abuse at boarding schools with consensual same-sex acts between adults have reached a fever pitch.
Uganda’s government last month set up a committee to investigate the alleged “promotion” of gay, lesbian and transgender rights in schools. In 2014, a Ugandan court struck down a bill passed by MPs and signed by President Yoweri Museveni that sought to impose life imprisonment for homosexual relations. The bill prompted global outrage, with some donor nations cutting aid to the country following its passage through parliament.
Frank Mugisha, executive director of leading gay rights organisation Sexual Minorities Uganda, which was suspended by the authorities last year, told AFP that he had already been inundated with calls from LGBTQ people over the proposed law. “Community members are living in fear,” he said. “Homosexual acts are already illegal, and a new law would mean more harassment and discrimination against people who are already vulnerable.”
Under colonial-era laws, homosexual acts are illegal in Uganda but since independence from Britain in 1962, there has never been a conviction for consensual same-sex activity.
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