The Speaker of Parliament Hon Anita Among has promised a comprehensive debate on the new Anti-Homosexuality Bill (2023), in which all stakeholders will be allowed to have a say.
Parliament on Thursday afternoon entertained the bill’s first reading before it was sent by the Speaker to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee.
The bill was tabled by Hon. Asuman Basalirwa of the opposition JEEMA party, along with its Certificate of Financial Implication which was delivered today by Minister of Finance Hon Matia Kasaija.
Addressing the house during the tabling of the bill, Speaker Among said the public including members of the LGBT community will be allowed to come to the house to give their views on the bill.
“We are inviting everyone including homos; allow them to come… MPs, religious leaders, all of them. We don’t want a scenario of people saying we were not heard,” she said.
The new bill which was gazetted on March 3rd 2023 proposes penalties ranging from 2 to 10 years imprisonment for acts of homosexuality, aggravated homosexuality, attempted homosexuality, aiding and abetting and conspiracy to commit acts of homosexuality and related practices.
The bill further provides for protection, assistance and compensation for victims of homosexuality as well as penalties for publicizing and revealing the identities of victims without their consent.
Hon. Basalirwa Asuman while laying the bill, proposed for all members of parliament to be compelled to make video statements to the public, stating whether or not they support the bill.
He also expressed concern about the government being under “immense pressure” from abroad over the proposed law.
In response, however, Government Chief Whip Hon. Hamson Obua said neither government nor parliament was under any form of pressure.
“I want to state that the leadership of the government of Uganda under President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is not under any pressure. I want to state also, that even the leadership of parliament under Speaker Anita Among who is here in person, is not under any pressure,” he said.
“The laws we make here are constitutional and we make them for the peace, stability and good governance of Uganda.”
On her part, Speaker Among said she was determined to avoid another situation where the new bill once passed, is challenged in court as was the case with the 2014 Anti-Homosexuality Act, which was struck down by the Constitutional Court because it was passed without quorum.
Hon Among said voting on the bill will done by tallying each member of the house.
“We don’t want technicalities of no quorum; this is time you will show us whether you are a homo or not,” she said