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Gay bill: Why MPs fear open vote

While the Marriage and Divorce Bill is facing its fiercest public attack since 2009 when it was first introduced in Parliament, the opposite has happened with the Anti-homosexuality Bill.

A snap survey by The Observer suggests that if their MPs' views are anything to go by, many Ugandans want the bill passed immediately. But many MPs prefer to discuss the bill behind closed doors for fear of retribution from Western interests. Americans and Europeans have condemned the bill which they say violates the rights of minorities.

Some 40 lawmakers we spoke to say their constituents are in full support of the draft law.

"People are saying we need to protect our culture. Homosexuality has not been approved amongst some of their [donor] states but they are imposing it on us," said Remigio Achia (Pian county, Nakapiripirit). We shall not accept this regardless of the implications."

Arinaitwe Rwakajara (Workers) says the bill should have been passed yesterday.

"We have even delayed to pass this law because some of these things have to be penalised if we are to protect our culture and religions," he said.

However, in Sembabule and some parts of Karamoja, voters have told their representatives not to even ask them about the bill.

"People have told me not to talk about homosexuality but just to make sure that in my actions I oppose the act," said Hanifa Kawooya (Sembabule Woman).

The lawmakers say they consulted voters at the same time as they gathered views on the controversial Marriage and Divorce bill.

Closed session

However, The Observer understands that some lawmakers have toyed with the idea of lobbying Speaker Rebecca Kadaga for a closed-door session when debate on the bill starts. National Youth MP, Monica Amoding, told The Observer that some MPs on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee proposed the move because of the sensitive nature of the bill.

"This subject is very sensitive and some of us fear that if it is discussed in public view, we will be persecuted for holding particular views," Amoding said. Not surprisingly, she refused to state whether she supports the bill.

Another MP, who requested anonymity, explained that supporting the bill publically could lead to being blacklisted. He cited David Bahati, the main promoter of the bill, saying the MP has been ostracised by some elements in the West because of his views.

"We have some projects that are funded by donors and at the same time we don't want to be misunderstood by voters. So, it is better to remain silent to avoid being blacklisted," he said.

Surveyed MPs who back the bill

Yahaya Gudoi (Bungokho North,NRM)
Isabirye Idi (Bunya South,NRM)
Lyndah Timbigamba (Kyenjojo Woman, NRM)
Jovah Kamateka (Mitooma Woman,NRM)
Cyrus Amodoi (Toroma, Indep)
Barnabas Tinkasiimire (Buyaga West, NRM)
Chris Baryomusi (Kinkizi East, NRM),
Arinaitwe Rwakajara (Workers, NRM)
Hellen Asamo (PWD Eastern, NRM)
Martin Drito (Madi Okollo, NRM)
Amos Mandera ( Kooki, NRM)
George Ekuma (Bukedea, NRM)
Rose Akol (Bukedea Woman, NRM),
Michael Ayepa (Labwor, NRM),
Remigio Achia (Pian, NRM)
Elizabeth Karungi (Kalungu, NRM),
Hatwib Katoto (Katerera, NRM)
Hanifah Kawooya (Sembabule Woman, NRM)
Twa Twa Mutwalante (Iki Iki,NRM)
Geofrey Ekanya (Tororo,FDC)
Olivia Kabala Kwagala (Iganga, NRM)
Benard Atiku (Ayivu,FDC)
Bakaluba Mukasa (Mukono North, NRM)
Stephen Birahwa (Buliisa, NRM)
James Kakooza (Kabula, NRM)
Kaps Fungaroo (Ubongi, FDC)
Tophace Kaahwa (Hoima Woman, NRM)
Mary Turyahikayo (Rubabo, NRM)
Abdu Katuntu (Bugweri, FDC)
Mathias Mpuuga (Masaka Municipality, Indep)
Joseph Ssewungu (Kalungu West, DP)
Vincent Ssempija (Kalungu East, Indep)
Mariam Nalubega (Butambala Woman, Indep)
Muwanga Kivumbi (Butambala, DP)
Jesca Ababiku (Adjumani Woman, Indep).


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