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A Parliament largely defined by a marked partisan divide was surprisingly unanimous late on Friday, as it passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

The bill had been shelved three times, in 2009, 2011 and 2013. But its passing opens a huge rift with donors, who have previously threatened to cut aid, and the executive, which was caught unawares.

Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi stormed the House moments before the bill was passed, protesting without much effect.

Mbabazi had walked out of the chambers earlier after Parliament had passed the Plants Varieties Protection Bill, apparently unaware the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was up next.

He soon rushed back to complain that the government was still consulting on some clauses, and that the House didn’t have the number of MPs required to pass the law.

“I was not aware that this bill was on the order paper; we have a few issues on which we are consulting… we would not want to have it pass without quorum,” Mbabazi said.

But he was booed by many, including ministers. Mbabazi seemed puzzled by the fact that even his own opposed him.

“We passed several bills yesterday [Thursday] with less numbers, why didn’t you stop us that there was no quorum?” Katerera MP Hatwib Katoto wondered.

When Mbabazi resumed his seat, he pulled out his copy of the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure and consulted cabinet colleagues, only to be shocked to see his fellow ministers cheering when Kadaga ruled against his wish.

“I think there was an opportunity to consult on this bill for so many years. The next chance will come at the time of (Presidential) assent; for us let us do our work,” Kadaga ruled.
Mbabazi stormed out and stood at the Central lobby, waiting to address journalists.

A cabinet minister who declined to be named, said at the weekend that in the wake of the passage of the legislation, ministers had been asked not to comment about the law. The official line is that if the position of government is made clear on a private member’s bill, it may be misunderstood by the international community.

But Frank Tumwebaze, the minister for the Presidency, said: “The president is still consulting on the matter though I can say that he is [known] to stand up for a position that creates harmony.”

The scheme

The private member’s bill was promoted by MPs David Bahati (Ndorwa West) and Benson Obua-Ogwal (Moroto county). It was first tabled in Parliament on October 14, 2009, triggering wide condemnation especially from the pro-gay lobby, human rights activists, and Western countries in general.

It was shelved then, re-introduced in 2011 and shelved again because government asked for more time to consult. It was also shelved this year until it was quietly re-introduced last Friday.

But promoters of the bill were encouraged by the recent passage of similar laws in Russia and Nigeria. Sources said the final onslaught was planned mid last week, and on Thursday evening. The bill’s promoters sent out messages to supportive MPs from both NRM and opposition.

“I went to bed knowing that this bill was coming up, they sent me a message yesterday [Thursday],” Dr Lulume Bayigga (DP, Buikwe South) told The Observer.

At least four MPs: Fox Odoi (West Budama North), Sam Otada (Kibanda), Krispus Ayena (Oyam North) and Abdul Katuntu (Bugweri) were known to be against the bill, having dissented from the position of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee, and wrote a minority report against the bill. The minority report was, however, signed only by Odoi and Otada, who were not in the House to defend their position.

“I was not aware that it was coming because it [was] not reflected on the [hard] copy and the electronic copy of the order paper that was sent to my email,” Odoi said when contacted.

As Parliament voted to pass the bill, Bahati, the promoter, paced the corridors, following proceedings on TV, and only appeared after it was passed to join his colleagues in celebration.

“This is the perfect Christmas gift we could give Ugandans, I want to thank the speaker for her courage that led to the passing of this bill,” Bahati told journalists.

He later told The Observer that it was tactical not to include the bill on the order paper because they feared government would block it.

“We knew that if it were to be included on the order paper, they [government] would scheme against it, it was in our plan that members request for it and the speaker uses her prerogative to have it included on the order paper,” Bahati told us on Friday.

Indeed, Kadaga told the House that the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee had told her that it had so many reports that were ready for consideration by the House. She then invited Paul Mwiru (Jinja Municipality East) to present the report on the bill.

The passing of the bill was greeted with as much elation as surprise.

“Parliament has done Uganda proud, I thank God for the resilience of our MPs,” said Pastor Martin Ssempa, a renowned anti-gay activist.

Ssempa was part of the group that planned the final onslaught. He said the plot was hatched on Wednesday, but they agreed to keep it secret.

“If we had let it out, we couldn’t have handled the resistance of gay activists; by this time, this place [Parliament] would be flooded by whites resisting the law,” he said.

Amendments

The bill was passed with some amendments such clause 3(2) reducing the punishment from death to life in prison for anyone convicted of aggravated homosexuality. Clauses 14, 15 and 16 that largely provided for prosecution of a Ugandan who commits the vice outside Ugandan boundaries were also dropped.

Despite his protestations in the House, Mbabazi insists government is not opposed to the law.

“We are not opposed to the bill, but there are some sections that we wanted to consult on,” he said.

But Odoi hinted at the possibility of challenging it in court: “The state has no role to play in the affairs of people’s bedrooms. If two adults are in consent to live together in a relationship, the state can’t determine for them how they should have sex.”

Unconstitutional

Reacting to the passage of the bill, Makerere University Law lecturer Kabumba Busingye said it would be difficult to enforce and that it breached Article 43 of the Constitution.

“The Article says that limitation on the enjoyment of rights in regard to public interest has to be demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society. What the [bill] says violates this provision of the Constitution and if it is inconsistent to it, it is null and void.”

Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission, regretted the MPs’ act.

“The implementation of this law would contravene essential principles of non-discrimination enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and in the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, both ratified by Uganda. I urge the Ugandan authorities to ensure respect of the principle of non-discrimination, guaranteed in the Ugandan Constitution, and to preserve a climate of tolerance for all minorities in Uganda.”

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Comments

 
-3 #1 4ABetterUganda 2013-12-22 23:53
The 9th Parliament should be ashamed of itself, and Mr. Amama Mbabazi showed his political astuteness by opposing this bill's passage.

Rebecca Kadaga, the main loser in all this, also proved that she is a political amateur, completing her stupid fall into a dangerous trap by a bunch of christian fundamentalists who are just clever liars. Sometimes you have to provide leadership and make unpopular decisions.

Why did they have to sneak in the bill? And why pass a bill that government - the supposed implementer - is opposed to? The bible says that people should go to church every sunday, will they also pass a law compelling Ugandans to go to church on sunday?

Ironically, the embattled Ugandan political opposition has put its feet in its mouth by supporting an oppressive law which seeks to legalize the persecution of a minority. Hamson Obua, will now contend with travel bans abroad and tear gas at home. Mr. Museveni will have the last laugh.
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-2 #2 Betty Long Cap 2013-12-23 00:22
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill without amendment life in prison or exile waves a red flag in front of the international community bull.

The homosexual agenda is sweeping America with seventeen States already recognizing same-sex marriages. That same unclean spirit is sweeping the world. Luzira Prison will be overcrowded if Parliament does not amend the bill to facilitate exile to EU.

fyi, incarceration costs! Why give sodomites a playground at taxpayers' expense?
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+1 #3 Kiggundu 2013-12-23 00:22
I always tell people Uganda's politics is very shallow as if played out by secondary kids... You cant support the passing of such a bill in such a manner and then claim government is oppressive and intolerant...

@4ABetterUganda Very true Ugandans will now contend with travel bans and tear gass at home... M7 who will be quick to distance himself from all this will indeed have the last laugh..
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-1 #4 Joseph 2013-12-23 00:33
Pity Ms Kadaga is involved in this pitiful scam. We cannot afford sneakily in running public affairs.

Museveni will for a change appear moderate by his likely refusal to assent to the bill.
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0 #5 Betty Long Cap 2013-12-23 02:05
Museveni has the choice of playing to the international community by pocket vetoing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill and thus forfeiting the 2016 presidential election or signing the bill passed unanimously by Parliament and ignoring national opinion.

Parliament is proving there is more than one way to oust the rascal.
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+4 #6 Moses Okello 2013-12-23 05:35
It’s an achievement of American Christian fundamentalists , who spent time in Uganda to stir against the “dangers of sodomy” and the “homosexuality movement.”

Pending; ICC investigating to arrest the author of Bahati; Sempa and Nsaba Butulo.
It is alleged Martin Sempa is a protégé of Rick Warren and that during the Bush administration; Sempa received $90,000 of America aid earmarked for abstinence promotion, google “Daily Beast’s Michelle Goldberg”.
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+12 #7 Muslim 2013-12-23 09:03
Injudicious gay rights activists, @Joseph, @4ABetterUganda , you can go into exile to Europe and America and do your Gay things from there. There is no place for homosexuality in our society, and your hopeless claims for human rights are ridiculous. How can someone have human rights for inhuman behavior? Nonsense.
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+1 #8 sserunjogi john 2013-12-23 10:34
u 4better uganda and kigunddu this is uganda,a country that has invested in God.

As per now the salt of the wholly world, which gives light to the lost sheep like you so. We know u after money but don't forget that earthly things have ends but GOD IS WHO IS. SO MUKAWEEWO EKA.
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-5 #9 4ABetterUganda 2013-12-23 10:44
@Betty Long Cap, yes, Rebecca Kadaga & co. were attempting to portray the government as being opposed to a popular bill. But it was a cheap move.

The government frequently supports very unpopular bills. That is the same as not supporting a very popular bill. But it sees the more severe risks associated with the AHB which amateur Kadaga, the stupid NRM MPs, and the ideologically bankrupt political opposition cannot see.

The world is not mad. Scot Lively, Stephen Langa, Martin Sempa, David Bahati, and the other writers of that bill are just a bunch of confused bigots fighting their own wars, riding on public ignorance, and manipulating Kadaga. Their criminal law seeks to persecute a very vulnerable minority group. By using it to further her political ambitions, Kadaga has behaved like a vampire.

Does she expect to be a fugitive president like Omar El Bashir of Sudan, playing into local popularity but suffering international criminality?
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+7 #10 Nyakageme 2013-12-23 11:42
Parliament and Ugandans at large have washed their hands clean as far as being agents of Satan on earth.

You are either with us on God's side or you are against us and against God. The battle line have been drawn and the ball(sword) is in Museveni's hands.

Merry Xmas to all Ugandans!!
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+8 #11 andrew 2013-12-23 12:12
for God and my country.
If a country chooses to take a path unpopular with a few but all for the good and moral of society relying on God.then God will always bless the land.

what is there to admire in moral terms about the West? they will learn from us that a family with mum and dad and children is the foundation of a successful land. btw lets not fear aid cuts because most of the tax payers in the west dont support homosexuality.
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+5 #12 kelem 2013-12-23 13:03
May all the promoters of sodomy be exposed and disgraced in the name of Jesus
"“I was not aware that this bill was on the order paper; we have a few issues on which we are consulting… we would not want to have it pass without quorum,” Mbabazi said.

“We passed several bills yesterday [Thursday] with less numbers, why didn’t you stop us that there was no quorum?” Katerera MP Hatwib Katoto wondered.
"
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+10 #13 Ngombe 2013-12-23 13:59
Parliament is a circus, majority of Ugandans dislike and hate the gay behavior, but this is not the most pressing problem of Ugandans when there are no drugs in hospitals, run away unemployment and dilapidated infrastructure, really when will parliament and government ever get the priorities right.

People are dying of treatable diseases and you prioritize gay-ism, majority disdain gay-ism but deal with pressing Ugandan issues first please Parliament, unless gay people have gone on a raping rampage then it becomes so urgent now.
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0 #14 ruben 2013-12-23 14:29
Kadaga has set M7 up by sneeking this through parliament. If he does not sign she will use it against him in the campaigns. If does our development partners will punish us.

Are the men here not worried she will next sneak through the marriage and divorce bill in a similar manner? Just having few men and lots of women to vote.

Are people not concerned that by passing the pornographic bill which targets women's thighs the women will go to court to target men's thighs and have our men banned from playing rugby and football in shorts
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+2 #15 Robert Atuhairwe 2013-12-23 14:50
Smart move? Nah! This country is in trouble.
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0 #16 Betty Long Cap 2013-12-23 14:58
WARNING: all hell is about to break loose if Museveni signs the Anti-Homosexuality bill without an exile amendment.

Expect economic sanctions and refusal of travel visas to those with Ugandan passports.
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-5 #17 wodgot 2013-12-23 16:51
The Bill is passed on very narrow assumption that sex is only the act carried out for procreation and pleasure which only involves insertion of male's genital into the female's genital.

They overlooked the simplest and most crucial aspect of it. The fact that it also involves two adults and rhythmic thrusting which results in orgasm, suggests these two people should be given their freedom to choose where to insert. That's how correct decisions are arrived at in a democratic environment.
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+7 #18 Openeyes 2013-12-23 19:53
We are not looking to the west as our moral compas we are a God fearing Nation and we choose to obey God's word not donors cause if it was them sustaining us this far they have brought us, for this time lets choose God, enough is enough.

For God and my country
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-1 #19 att 2013-12-24 01:18
The passing of this bill shows how shallow some of our MPs and their Kadaga are.

I cant remember when I last sided with Mbabazi but in this case I do. I also doubt M7 will sign it into law.

There is nothing Uganda gains from this. The laws on defilement,rape , child molestation are sufficient. We just need enforcement. We don't need rubbish bills out of pure ignorance.

At this rate, we should all expect to pay more taxes and to get fewer tourists, thanks to our genius MPs.
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+7 #20 Francis 2013-12-24 12:13
Talking about Donor fear!? We must be the most Naive Soceity indeed!

To think that Donors are our Saviour is to admit inferiority complex, Zero self esteem and that something is fundamentally wrong scewed mindset. Let them go hang with their cash, PERIOD!

The Public Order Law alone, should have triggered Donors to withold their cash, but where are they??
Human Right abuses are daily events in Uganda and yet the Donors continues to award the regime A+++,
Uganda Police brutality is known the world over, yet no Donor show up to raise a little finger,

Theft of Public cofers and so denying the deserving nation of wealth, prosperities, education, health, public infrustracture etc.

The other day, they stole money from Nodding desease patients, AIDS, TB etc. and donors continues to mery make with the regime.
Just let them go to HELL with their Homo-laced cash.
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