Uganda: Leaders give mixed signals over procedures for Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Earlier this week, gay advocacy website Behind the Mask quoted James Mukaga, a clerk assistant to the Parliament, as saying that MP David Bahati would need to get a statement of financial impact from the Minister of Finance in order to proceed with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Mukaga said that the hurdle might now be difficult to clear since Uganda’s Cabinet ministers recently declared their opposition to the bill.
However, Bahati presented such a statement to Parliament when he first introduced the bill on October 14, 2009, as noted in the official minutes.

MR DAVID BAHATI (NRM, Ndorwa County West, Kabale) I beg to move that the Bill entitled, The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009 be read for the first time.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: It is seconded. Do you have the Certificate of Financial Implications?
MR BAHATI: In fulfilment of rule 102, I would like to lay on the Table the Certificate of Financial Implications duly signed by the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and issued on 10 September 2009.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Bill is committed to the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, but owing to its multifaceted nature, other committees can team up to facilitate the progress of the Bill. Thank you very much.

The bill’s immediate future hinges on what current Speaker Rebecca Kadaga requires for action on the floor. According to MP Otto Odonga, Speaker Kadaga will not require MP Bahati to reintroduce the AHB. Parliament spokesperson, Helen Kawesa, also told me that the next step for the bill is a second reading and floor debate.
If Speaker Kadaga allows the bill to be considered by Parliament without reintroduction, then the requirement for a statement from the Minister of Finance has already been satisfied. If the Speaker requires reintroduction, then Mr. Bahati might have to start from scratch with an initial motion to introduce the bill followed by the tabling of a new bill for the first of three required readings. The new bill would be assigned to a committee again with hearings and a new report prior to the second reading.
As of now, there is no indication that Speaker Kadaga will require Bahati to reintroduce the AHB. If the bill is taken up by the Parliament as is, then the next step is a second reading and floor discussion. At this point, the bill could be amended.
Behind the Mask also reported that Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee chair Stephen Tashobya said his committee would meet September 7th to decide what bills to consider before the Christmas holiday. Tashobya declined to predict whether or not the AHB would be among those bills.

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