This article was just posted on Uganda’s Daily Montor website…
A committee of Cabinet has made recommendations that could end Ndorwa West MP David Bahati’s proposal to have a separate law punishing homosexuality in Uganda. The recommendations, which Saturday Monitor has seen, come close to dismissing Mr Bahati’s draft legislation. The committee, put together to advise the government after Mr Bahati’s draft legislation left Uganda condemned by sections of the international community, looked deep into the language, tone and relevance of the draft legislation, dissecting every clause to determine its usefulness.
It was not clear who wrote the draft legislation, the committee’s report says, noting that the document had “technical defects in form and content”. The result left the draft legislation almost bare, as nearly all of the clauses were found either redundant, repetitive of existing laws, or even useless. In fact, the committee found that only “Clause 13” of the draft legislation, about the promotion of homosexuality, had some merit.
“This appears to be the core of the (draft legislation) and should be upheld due to the fact that there was massive recruitment to entice people into homosexuality going on, especially among the youth,” the report says. Seven ministers were originally named to the committee, but only three, as well as a representative of the Attorney General, attended the meeting that produced these recommendations.
Dr Nsaba Buturo, the junior ethics minister, who has spoken fiercely against homosexuality, never attended this meeting. He has since complained to Local Government Minister Adolf Mwesigye, who chaired the committee, that the report did not reflect his views.
Read the rest at the Monitor site.
Divisions among government leaders seem obvious with these developments. In addition to the harshness of the bill, critics have noted that there are many aspects that are unenforceable and overlap with existing law. The clause suggested for retention, clause 13, reads:
13. Promotion of homosexuality.
(1) A person who –
(a) participates in production. procuring, marketing, broadcasting, disseminating, publishing pornographic materials for purposes of promoting homosexuality;
(b) funds or sponsors homosexuality or other related activities;
(c) offers premises and other related fixed or movable assets for purposes of homosexuality or promoting homosexuality;
(d) uses electronic devices which include internet, films, mobile phones for purposes of homosexuality or promoting homosexuality and;
(e) who acts as an accomplice or attempts to promote or in any way abets homosexuality and related practices; commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a line of live thousand currency points or imprisonment of a minimum of five years and a maximum of seven years or both fine and imprisonment.
(2) Where the offender is a corporate body or a business or an association or a non-governmental organization, on conviction its certificate of registration shall be cancelled and the director or proprietor or promoter shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for seven years.
As written, there are significant free speech issues here. However, we do not know to what degree even this clause was altered.
Probably, the most significant aspect of the article is the following:
“The Anti-Homosexuality Bill should be reviewed since some provisions of the Constitution were not followed in the process of drafting and that, therefore, it was illegally before Parliament,” the report says, adding that “some sections of the Penal Code Act could be amended to include some good provisions” of the draft law. This kind of amendment, the committee’s report says, is the preferable option.
It was hoped, at least according to Dr Buturo, that the Cabinet committee would make certain amendments to the draft law. As it turned out, the committee critiqued Mr Bahati’s work so deeply that no amendments were proposed. Mr Mwesigye said on Thursday that he had no comment to make. Cabinet is yet to discuss the committee’s recommendations.
Mr Bahati was not immediately available for comment. The draft law is currently before Parliament’s Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. Kajara MP Stephen Tashobya, who chairs the committee, has not said when he is likely to start discussion on it.
It may be that the committee’s statement that the bill was “illegally before Parliament” will be a way for the government to declare the bill moot.