I have been out most of the day and so I am just now seeing this letter from Uganda’s President Yowari Museveni to Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga. The letter was sent to me by an activist from Uganda.
I hope the viewer below works for you; otherwise, click the link to read it.
It is not clear what the next move is. Given that the letter is dated December 28, 2013, Museveni would have until January 28 to formally send it back to Parliament. Otherwise, it would become law.
In an article on the parliament website, Rebecca Kadaga denies that she has been barred from attending the Global Peace Convention over her support for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. As I noted last night, the State Department denied reports that sanctions have been threatened. It is unclear what committee chair Stephen Tashobya was referring to by a letter he said he received from the United States.
Here is the article from the parliament website:
The Parliament of Uganda has noted with concern the information being disseminated by some media houses and other sources that due to concern for her security, the Right Honorable Speaker Rebecca Kadaga has been barred by the American Embassy, from travelling to the United States to attend the Global Peace Convention 2012. This, it is claimed, is a result of the Rt. Hon. Speaker’s pronouncements during the IPU Conference in Quebec in October 2012, on matters pertaining to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which is due to be debated in Parliament of Uganda.
The Parliament of Uganda would like to formally clarify therefore that the United States Embassy in Uganda has not at any one time formally communicated to the Office of the Speaker or to the Speaker herself preventing her from travelling to the United States of America for the said Convention.
While it is true that the Speaker had been invited to attend the Heads of State Global Peace Convention 2012 which will take place from November 29th to December 1st in Atlanta, Georgia, she declined to attend the meeting due to several commitments at Parliament most important of which was that the Deputy Speaker was scheduled to be out of the country on official business at the time, yet Parliament was in session. It may be necessary to note that constitutionally, it is only the Speaker or her Deputy permitted to chair parliamentary sittings. They can, therefore, not be away at the same time when Parliament is sitting.
The Parliament of Uganda would like to clarify, therefore, that all reports pertaining to the travel ban on the Right Honorable Speaker are fictitious, and have been treated by the Parliament with the contempt that they deserve. The public is advised to treat the news with similar regard.
It should be noted, in conclusion, that the leadership and the Parliament of Uganda enjoy cordial relations with both the United States Embassy in Uganda and the United States Department of State.
The Global Peace Conference is sponsored by the Unification Church.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill is listed on today’sorder paper under the heading of “Notice of Business to Follow.”
NOTICE OF BUSINESS TO FOLLOW
MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION OF PARLIAMENT TO URGE GOVERNMENT TO BAIL OUT SEMBULE STEEL MILLS LTD FROM THE INTENDED SALE OF ITS PROPERTIES
PRESENTATION, CONSIDERATION AND ADOPTION OF THE REPORT ON THE ADHOC COMMITTEE INVESTIGATING THE ENERGY SECTOR
THE ANTI-HOMOSEXUALITY BILL, 2012
4. THE PUBLIC ORDER MANAGEMENT BILL, 2012
5. REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY ON THE STATUS OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY IN PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES
6. REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY ON THE AFRICAN SPACE RESEARCH PROGRAM (ASRP)
7. REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL ECONOMY ON THE REQUEST BY GOVERNMENT TO BORROW SDR 87.1 MILLION (USD 135.0M) FROM THE INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION (IDA) OF THE WORLD BANK GROUP FOR FINANCING OF THE WATER MANAGEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT PROJECT (WMDP)
8. REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE NATIONAL ECONOMY ON THE STATE OF THE ECONOMY
9. PETITION AGAINST THE OFFICIAL RECEIVER OF UGANDA ELECTRICITY BOARD (UEB) AND UEB (IN LIQUIDATION) FOR NON-PAYMENT OF GRATUITY
21ST NOVEMBER 2012
The bill reached this level of attention back in May, 2011 but time ran out before the bill was debated. There is now plenty of time for this bill to come to the floor prior to the planned December 15 recess.
The Speaker of Parliament has directed the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee to present the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2011 on the floor of Parliament.
The committee chairperson, Mr Stephen Tashobya, passed on Ms Rebecca Kadaga’s directive to committee members yesterday as he summoned them to attend next week’s session in person “to have the Bill concluded”.
In her November 13 letter, the Speaker advised Mr Tashobya to be mindful of what she said was the high demand by the public to address homosexuality.
“I write to reiterate my earlier instruction to your committee to expeditiously handle the review of the report on the Bill. As you are aware, there is high demand by the population to address the escalating problem of promoting and recruiting minors into homosexuality,” the letter reads in part.
“This is therefore to inform you that I shall place the Bill on the Order Paper immediately after conclusion of the Oil Bills,” she wrote. Parliament is concluding consideration of the Petroleum (Exploration, Production and Development) Bill as the House breaks off for Christmas recess on December 15, which suggests that after the Bill is hopefully completed by next Tuesday, MPs can expect to debate and probably pass the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
Mr Tashobya said his committee had “a working document [ready] because we had a lot of responses during the public hearings.” The Bill was presented as a Private Members’ Bill by Ndorwa West MP David Bahati in the 8th Parliament and has since become a subject of international discussion, with a number of Western countries threatening to cut aid to Uganda if it is passed.
The working document is a report left over from the 8th Parliament and makes very few changes in the anti-gay bill. I wrote about the committee report in May, 2011:
A paper designated as the final report of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee was leaked last Thursday, just ahead of Friday’s final session. I have good reasons to believe that the report did come from the committee although I cannot say for certain that the report would have been presented on the floor of the Parliament had the bill gotten that far. You can read the report, converted to a .pdf, by clicking here.
Even after the changes, the penalty for private, consensual same-sex intimacy would still be life in jail and the death penalty would remain since it is the penalty provided for aggravated defilement in Uganda. Clauses 4, 7, 8, 14, 16 & 17 were deleted but a new penalty for participating in the marriage of a same-sex couples. Presumably, this would discourage ministers from performing the ceremonies. Even if the bill had been amended in the manner suggested by the committee, the bill would have defined homosexual behavior in a way that criminalized the most modest forms of intimacy with either life in prison or death for HIV positive individuals.
According to the Monitor report, the Speaker wants to have the second reading of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill after the Petroleum Bills are completed. According to today’s agenda, the oil bills were debated in today’s session (click here to read the order paper for today). The listing of business to come does not list the AHB but according to the Monitor, Kadaga is going to put it on the order paper for sometime next week.
Parliament will soon consider the Anti Homosexuality Bill, the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, has said.
The Speaker, who was addressing a cross section of religious leaders upon her return from Canada where she attended the 127th Inter Parliamentary Union Assembly, said she would not be intimidated by any western power about her position on homosexuality.
“I will instruct the Chair of the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to bring the report on the Anti Homosexuality Bill, so that we can consider it,” she said, Monday night.
The Anti Homosexuality Bill, a private Members draft law was moved by Hon. David Bahati during the Eighth Parliament. It seeks to establish a comprehensive legislation to protect the traditional family by prohibiting any form of sexual relations between people of the same sex; and the promotion or recognition of such sexual relations in public institutions as healthy, normal or an acceptable lifestyle, including in the public schools, through or with the support of any government entity in Uganda or any non- governmental organization inside or outside the country.
During the IPU Assembly held in Quebec, Canada, Hon. Kadaga protested assertions by the Canadian Foreign Minister that Uganda was intolerant to homosexuals.
“If homosexuality is a value for the people of Canada, they should not seek to force Uganda to embrace it. We are not a colony or a protectorate of Canada,” she said while in Canada.
Upon her return, the Speaker said that delegates from several other countries were happy with her statement but were afraid to speak out.
“I did not realize I was speaking for the entire world; Africa, the Arab world, Latin America and western countries; delegates told me ‘you were speaking for all of us.’ They had no courage to respond to (the Canadian Foreign Minister),” she said.
She added, “I will not accept to be intimidated or directed by any government in the world. If the price of aid is accepting homosexuality, we can reject the aid.”
The welcome ceremony included Parliament Commissioners, MPs, the former Minister of Ethics, Dr. James Nsaba Buturo, advocates against homosexuality and several students, who carried placards in support of the Speaker’s position and urging Parliament to urgently approve the Anti Homosexuality Bill.
Committee chair Tashobya was quoted in a newspaper article this week that he would have it to the floor before Christmas. Let’s remember that the order paper of Parliament will reflect the second reading of the bill. At that time a committee report will be heard and debate occur. It is highly likely that the third reading will happen that same day. If so, the bill could become law rapidly once introduced to the floor. The President can send it back to Parliament with suggestions but according to current practice and the Constitution, he cannot stop the bill from becoming law.