Uganda MPs, Attorney General clash over fate of Anti-Gay Bill

Uganda MPs, Attorney General clash over fate of Anti-Gay Bill
Kiryowa Kiwanuka, the Attorney General.

Kampala, Uganda | URN | Members of Parliament (MPs) have accused the Attorney General of frustrating the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that was unanimously passed by the House last month.

It has emerged that the Deputy Attorney General, Jackson Karugaba Kafuuzi, also the Kyaka South County Member of Parliament wrote to the President ‘disassociating’ the Attorney General’s office from the Bill and advised the President not to assent to it.

Solomon Silwany, the Bukooli County Central MP told the House during a plenary sitting that he was in possession of a leaked letter written by Kafuuzi to the President, advising him not to assent to the Bill that has been transmitted to him by the Clerk to Parliament.

Silwany sought the advice of the Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa if it was procedurally right for Kafuuzi to act contrary to the position of the House that unanimously passed the Bill, and yet he never raised any objections at the time.

Cecilia Atim Ogwal, the Dokolo District Woman MP raised a procedural matter seeking to know why the President is delaying assent to the Bill while the country is anxiously waiting.

Buhweju County Member of Parliament, Francis Mwijukye, collaborated fears of the legislators citing a pending caucus meeting of NRM MPs to discuss the bill on Thursday 20, April 2023 at State House Entebbe.

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Kiryowa Kiwanuka, the Attorney General, without divulging the content of the letter, admitted that his deputy wrote the letter and urged the House not to interfere with the legislative process.

However, citing Article 91 of the Constitution, Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa pointed out that the matter at hand is at the discretion of the President to either take the advice rendered to him or reject it and return the Bill to the House for reconsideration.

On 21 Tuesday, March 2023, Parliament unanimously passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill which outlined severe punitive measures against anyone who engages in acts of homosexuality, including a 20-year jail sentence, and a maximum death penalty for anyone engaging in aggravated homosexuality.

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The Private Member’s Bill was introduced by Bugiri Municipality Member of Parliament, Asuman Basalirwa on 9 March 2023. It also prohibits acts that expose children to homosexuality by imposing a 10-year prison sentence on a person found to recruit a child into the vice.

Further, the Bill seeks to penalize an owner, occupier, or manager of premises who knowingly allows the premises to be used for acts of homosexuality with a 10-year prison sentence upon conviction.

Also, a person who contracts a marriage with a person of the same sex presides over a same-sex marriage ceremony, or knowingly participates in the preparation of such a marriage is liable on conviction, to a 10-year prison sentence.

Notably, several activists opposed the Bill arguing that the law is regressive and does not meet human rights standards.