Uganda updates: Hearings continue on Anti-Homosexuality Bill

UPDATE 5 (Tuesday, May 10) – I started another post for the developments today. Go to that post for the latest…
UPDATE 4: This petition against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill (AHB) has 100,000 200,000 signatures; check it out and sign on. Also, tweet this post with the designation #Uganda.
All eyes will be on Stephen Tashobya’s Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee tomorrow. If the committee’s report on the AHB is completed and presented to the Speaker of the House Edward Ssekandi, then the ball will be in Ssekandi’s court. He could then call the bill to the floor on Wednesday for a second and third reading. If the report is not presented tomorrow then there will not be time to bring the bill forward within the time allotted by Ssekandi for Parliament’s business (Wednesday, May 11). In order for the AHB to be considered, Ssekandi would need to call the Parliament together on Friday, the 13th or next week when the new Parliament is being sword in. Technically, the 8th Parliament is in session until the 18th.
As it stands, opponents of the AHB could have a constitutional basis for challenging the bill if it indeed becomes law. The Ugandan legislative procedures require bills to be reported out of committee within 45 days, unless extra time was sought from Parliament. Although such time may have been requested, I can find no record of it on any of the order papers. The bill has been in committee since October 14, 2009.
Via BoxTurtleBulletin, the Ugandan Human Rights Coalition just released a statement about the bill and their testimony today.
UPDATE 3: Here is a report from a San Diego paper which quotes Bishop Senyonjo speaking about his experienced in today’s hearings.
UPDATE 2: The AP just released a story which summarizes the situation after the end of hearings today. The next step is for the committee chair Stephen Tashobya to write a report from the hearings. Tashobya is quoted as saying he would have the report completed by tomorrow. However, he just told me a few minutes ago that he cannot promise to complete the report by tomorrow. He did say that he would complete the report before the end of Parliament which is the 18th of May. When I asked him how the Parliament could vote on a bill in this manner, he said that the Speaker (Edward Ssekandi) makes those decisions. Theoretically, the Speaker could call Parliament into session anytime before May 18 for a vote on any left over bills.
According to Tashobya, the Company bill did not pass today, and the Procurement bill was pushed to tomorrow, thus making it even more difficult for any new bills to come to the floor before Speaker Ssekandi’s end of official business date of May 11. The AHB coming to the floor appears to hinge on the completion of the committee report by Mr. Tashobya  sometime tomorrow and the Speaker’s willingness to bring it to the floor on Wednesday. If this does not happen, the Speaker would have to call the MPs together sometime during the festivities of the Presidential inauguration and the swearing in of the new Parliament on the 18th.
UPDATE: I just spoke with LGBT advocate Brian Nkoyooyo (about 5pm there) who was in the hearings today. He said that the Human Rights Commission, Sexual Minorities Uganda and the Coalition on Human Rights presented testimony in opposition to the bill. The hearings are still being held, although he did not know who else intended to testify. He was not sure if hearings would take place tomorrow but believed that the bill could come to the Parliament for discussion by Wednesday.
Throughout the day, I will post information as I get it regarding the status of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.  Today, opponents of the bill were supposed to testify.
Saturday, the Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, Edward Ssekandi said that business would wrap up on Wednesday. He sounded unsure about the fate of the AHB, and would not guarantee that it would get a vote.

The Parliament winds up with debate on several bills, some of them controversial, pending.
These include the Domestic Relations Bill, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, the HIV Bill, Procurement Amendment Bill and the Company Act.
We want to ensure that at least two, especially the procurement and the company bills, are passed before we wind up,” Ssekandi said.


“Many MPs also want the Domestic Relations Bill to be passed because it has delayed for over 40 years. I don’t know whether we shall be able to pass it because the committee has not yet given me its report,” he said.

For the AHB to get a vote, the hearings would need to end today, a report be submitted to the Speaker by tomorrow leading to action on Wednesday. The two bills Ssekandi said had priority, the procurement and company bills. were slated for third readings and a vote today, according to the Parliament’s agenda. If those are out of the way, then there could be time for the remaining bills. According to the agenda, the HIV Control bill is to be read a second time tomorrow. The Domestic bill and the AHB could be read on Wednesday.
I add updates as I get them.
For two years of coverage on the AHB, click this link.