Parliament of Uganda silently passes law against homosexuality

Parliament of Uganda silently passes law against homosexuality
Anti-gay protesters rally in Jinja, east of the capital Kampala In March 2014. COURTESY PHOTO

Kampala, Uganda | URN | The Parliament of Uganda has passed the Sexual Offences Bill 2019 reintroducing the ban on homosexuality in the country.   

In a heated debate on Monday 3, May 2021 the MPs also rejected to the proposal that allows a person, who had consented to a sexual act to withdraw that consent at any time before or during the performance of the sexual act.   

The object of the bill is to enact a specific law on sexual offences for the effectual prevention of sexual violence; to enhance punishment of sexual offenders; to the protection of victims during sexual offences trials; to provide for extra territorial application of the law; to repeal some provisions of the Penal Code Act among others.  

Now in a heated debate in Parliament, Members of Parliament generally supported the bill, but men and women were divided when it came to issues of withdrawal of consent during sexual intercourse, before finally rejecting it.   

According to the legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee chairperson Jacob Oboth Oboth, the bill proposes to introduce ‘post-penetration” consent which occurs in a situation where two people initially engage in consensual sexual intercourse, but during intercourse one person changes his or her mind and withdraws his or her consent to the sexual act. 

The committee however rejects this proposal in their report, saying the committee is concerned that the provision may pose practical and enforcement challenges, saying the provision is not clear as to how this will practically work.  

Several MPs who rose up to speak mostly commented on the withdrawal on consent during sex. The chairperson Uganda Women Parliamentary Association (UWOPA) Pamela  Nasiyo Kamugo said that when you realise that the man is not protected, a woman should be allowed to withdraw consent and discontinue.

Kilak North MP Anthony Akol proposes that consent should be applied only during health complications, traditions, but at this rate it will be difficult to measure consent during the act of having sex.   

Stella Atyang, the Moroto Woman MP in her support for the withdrawal of consent during sex said that there are cases when one has consented to having sex naturally, and then the partner introduces things unfamiliar and it should be made okay for the dissatisfied partner to withdraw.   

The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga said that the proposal was complicated especially where it allowed for consent during sex. 

The Minister of Finance in Charge of planning, David Bahati said that the proposal to allow withdraw of consent during sex would cause conflict, and hinder the passing of the bill.

He proposed that the clause be deleted. 

Monica Amoding, the Kumi Woman MP conceded saying that although many women would have loved to have the withdrawal of consent, she is happy to have it withdrawn and the bill be passed. 

Cyrus Aogon, the Kumi MP rejected the proposal on unsolicited contacts like touching a woman or a man, saying sometimes you touch someone by mistake. He also rejected the proposal to punish someone for using gestures, saying this is the process of wooing a partner. The Speaker Rebecca Kadaga however challenged Aogon asking if its okay to touch a woman in a taxi, and Aogon said this needs to be specific.    

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The committee also introduced a ban on sexual act between persons of the same gender (homosexuality). “The committee therefore recommends that for completeness, clause 11 should stand part of the Bill albeit with the amendments that the ingredients of the offence are defined to include; A ban on a sexual act between persons of the same gender,” said Oboth Oboth.     

This proposal is found under unnatural offences which also prohibits sexual act with an animal or sex in an order contrary to nature.  The punishment for this is imprisonment for five years.   Although the proposals was read before the committee, members adopted with no objection or comment.   

Oboth Oboth says they are happy that the ban on Homosexuality has finally happened, he says that that there should not be any questions on forum like the last time.   

The ban on same-gender sex comes after the Anti-Homosexuality Act was passed by Parliament in 2013. The law proposed life imprisonment or the death penalty. Although the bill was signed into law in 2014 by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, it was annulled at the constitutional court over issues of quorum.