Uganda's Parliament Responds To President's Rejection of Anti-Homosexuality Bill

In light of the rejection of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill by Ugandan President Yowari Museveni, I asked Parliament spokeswoman Helen Kawesa about Speaker Kadaga’s reaction to Museveni’s characterization of the bill as “fascist.” In an email, she said:

The official position is that Parliament passed the Bill. Its now in President’s hands to assent or not. Parliament did its part and can only wait for the President’s position then the process can take its course.

If Museveni makes good on his stated intentions, the bill will be returned to Parliament with Museveni’s suggested changes. Parliament may consider it or leave the matter alone. This process could extend into next year when the Parliament ends.
Apparently, Museveni does not have the amended bill to review as yet. When he receives it, he will have 30 days to send it back to Parliament.

Update on Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill; President Will Not Assent to "Fascist" Legislation

Late last week, Uganda’s president Yowari Museveni spoke out against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill but stopped short of declaring in his letter to Parliament what he planned to do about the bill.
According to a press release from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights dated Jan. 18, Museveni will not sign what he termed as “fascist” legislation.

(18 January 2014 | Kampala) A delegation from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center) met with President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni today at State House in Entebbe, Uganda to discuss the Anti-Homosexuality Bill passed by Uganda’s parliament on December 20, 2013. Last month Kerry Kennedy, President of the RFK Center, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote to the President to express their concern over the bill, requesting further discussion on the matter.
The delegation – comprised of Ms. Kennedy, Santiago A. Canton, Director of RFK Partners for Human Rights, and Wade McMullen, Staff Attorney for the RFK Center – expressed their grave concern over the legislation that would further criminalize homosexual conduct, censor freedom of expression, and ban civil society organizations working on LGBTI issues in Uganda. Archbishop Desmond Tutu who joined the conversation via telephone similarly expressed his concern, stating the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was reminiscent of oppressive laws passed under apartheid in South Africa.
President Museveni pledged to reject the bill as currently drafted, calling the legislation “fascist.” The President stated that he will consult with his party and plans to introduce a new piece of legislation aimed at protecting minors from being coerced into sexual activity.

Today’s Daily Monitor brought this news to Ugandans. This is significant development in Uganda’s political landscape. Museveni will now suggest legislation which will actually address what many parliamentarians tout as their main concern — children. All LGB groups in Uganda oppose crimes against children.
Uganda’s Civil Society organization also spoke out against the bill, noting what the lack of quorum and notice on the order paper.


Full Text of Letter From Uganda's President Museveni to Speaker of Parliament Kadaga Regarding the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

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.

Uganda's President Rejects Anti-Homosexuality Bill, Says Parliament Broke the Law By Passing It

According to the Daily Monitor for Friday, January 17, President Museveni sent Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga a December 28 letter scolding Parliament for passing the Anti-Homosexuality bill without a quorum.
Museveni will apparently not assent to the bill and advised Kadaga that  “the NRM Caucus will find a scientifically correct position on the proposed anti-gay legislation” according to the Monitor.
Museveni apparently called gays “abnormal,” but added that legislation would not stop people from becoming homosexuality.
If Museveni formally returns the bill to Parliament, debate will take place. If the requested changes are not made, the President can send the bill back another time. A 2/3 majority would be required at that point to pass the bill. According to one MP, Museveni is committed to softening the bill.
If this is true, then perhaps Sen. Inhofe can express appreciation for stalling the bill when Inhofe meets with Museveni next week.

Was The Death Penalty Really Removed From Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill? (UPDATED)

UPDATE – 1/14/14: This morning, I received an email from Charles Tuhaise, researcher for Uganda’s Parliament. Charles provided clarification about some of the issues I raised in this post. Thanks to him for the information. I am placing his comments in advance of yesterday’s post because they address some of my questions below. Regarding the manner of handling bills in Uganda, Tuhaise wrote:

Over here, the original Bill remains intact throughout the debate period until the Bill comes up for second reading. At second reading, usually on the same day, the entire Parliament constitutes itself into a “Committee of the whole House” and then effects amendments to the Bill clause-by-clause. After that, the Bill is “read” the third time and is passed by Parliament.
The rules of procedure do not provide for any other way of amending a Bill, after it is printed, other than the above procedure, when the Bill appears for 2nd reading in Parliament’s plenary sitting. That’s why the same copies of the AH Bill are provided whenever you request them. Even if it is a Private Member’s Bill, the Bill’s proponent cannot alter anything in the printed Bill, but must wait to propose such amendment at the Bill’s 2nd reading.
After a Bill is passed by Parliament with amendments, the Clerk’s office undertakes to produce the revised Bill that incorporates the amendments agreed by Parliament. This revised copy of the Bill is never availed to the public but is sent to the President for assent. If the President assents, it goes to the Printers and is next seen by the public as an Act of Parliament, (no-longer a Bill).
I hope this clarifies the issue of Bill amendment. The first time we know which amendments were agreed on in the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, is when it appears as an Act of Parliament (i.e. if the President signs it as passed). Alternatively, one can go to the House record of the debates (the Hansard) to see the amendments agreed when Parliament constituted itself as “Committee of the whole House” – (after the Hansard Department publishes the day’s proceedings – not sure if a copy is already available.)
But, Parliament’s Public Relations Department covered the day’s proceedings and wrote an article that indicates what was agreed on that day.

The article indicates that an act of homosexuality could lead to 14 years in jail with life in prison for repeated offenses. I have also been told that the 30 day period for Museveni’s assent (or not) does not begin until he gets the amended bill. If that is true, then his time for consideration may not have started since he may not yet have the amended bill. I asked Charles to clarify that point and will add that information when I get it.
……………. (Original posts begins below)
After the passage of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill on December 20, all news coverage of that event claimed that the death penalty was removed from the bill.
On one other occasion prior to the adjournment of the 8th Parliament, the public was told that the death penalty had been removed. However, later, it was learned that the death penalty was in fact, still in place. And if the committee report that supported the enactment of the bill in December is the same report as offered in May 2011, then the death penalty could very well still be in the bill being considered now by Uganda’s president Yowari Museveni.
I have asked Parliament several times for a copy of the amended bill. Recently, when I asked Parliament’s media relations for a copy of the bill passed in December 2013, I received a copy of the bill tabled in June, 2011. In that bill, there are no changes from the original bill; the death penalty for aggravated homosexuality is still in place.

The date stamped on this bill is June 30, 2011 which was when the bill was tabled in the 9th Parliament. Click the link to read the bill sent to me and described as the bill passed by Parliament. The description of “aggravated homosexuality” is the same.

The death penalty is still in there (UPDATE: but as noted above, the death penalty is supposed to be removed. I still want to see the language myself due to the incident in 2011).
Now it may be that amendments were made and the bill as amended is being kept a secret. However, with the deadline looming for Museveni’s decision, it is worth asking what is actually in the bill. The world was told once upon a time that the death penalty was taken out and that other changes were made. However, the committee report in 2011 revealed otherwise.
Life in prison is bad enough and as this Cameroonian fellow proves, any time spent in prison could be a death sentence, so the removal, if true, is not reason for relief.
As I understand it, the bill becomes law if Museveni does nothing by next Monday (please see above — this may not be true). As of now, in my mind, there is still some doubt about what that law will look like.