Ugandan parliament working to fast-track anti-gay bill

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The original author of Uganda’s controversial Anti-Homosexual Bill has given notice that he intends to reintroduce it during the current parliamentary session.

The bill was struck down on a technicality in August, after a Constitutional Court judge ruled that not enough members of parliament had been present to legally pass the legislation.

According to KFM 93.3, while opening the plenary session in Parliament, Ugandan Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah said that once the bill is re-introduced, “it will be handled appropriately.” Additionally, he said that the House of Representatives will hold both morning and afternoon sessions to fast-track parliamentary business.

A request to push the bill to the top of the Parliamentary agenda, ahead of even the current budget negotiations, was denied on September 2. Uganda’s Daily Monitor reported that Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah said, “We are now focusing on the Budget process and the [Anti-Homosexual] Bill was already here and we passed it into law. If it had still been within Parliament, it would still be property of Parliament and we would have done whatever necessary to correct the anomalies.”

Additionally, Oulanyah noted that a petition calling for another vote on the bill had collected the signatures of 254 Members of Parliament (MPs). Petitions only require the support of one-third of Parliament’s 376 members.

The constitutional court’s ruling against the bill means that Parliament will have to start the process over from the beginning, but MP David Bahati told press, “We can suspend any of the rules if we think it is important.”

The legislation may undergo some revision before passage, as President Yoweri Museveni has allegedly said that it should avoid further criminalizing “consenting homosexuals.”

MP Medard Bitekyerezo told allAfrica in an interview, “We feel we don’t want our president to support a law that is going to accept our children to be molested by those who are doing homosexuality here. I think there, he agrees with us…[but]our president is saying, there are some people who have opted to go into hotels and they’re sleeping together and they are adults, and they have consented. He says we shouldn’t tamper with them and we have also agreed.”

Under current Uganda law, even consensual homosexual sex acts are punishable by up to fourteen years in prison.

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