Uganda President to “Review” Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Jim Burroway

December 26th, 2013

The Ugandan tabloid Red Pepper says:

(President Yoweri) Museveni said he, “will first go  through the bill and if it is right, he will sign it into law but if he finds it not right, he will send it back to parliament”.

If cooler heads prevail, there are multiple ways in which cooler heads can slow-walk the Anti-Homosexuality Bill through its paces after it was impulsively passed by Parliament last week. Uganda’s constitution requires that Parliament sends the bill with all amendments incorporated to the President’s office “as soon as possible,” after which the President has thirty days to assent to the bill or send it back to Parliament with his objections. Since we don’t know how soon “as soon as possible” is, it’s not clear when that thirty day clock starts. If Museveni does send it back to Parliament, then Parliament will have the opportunity to consider changes to the bill, but will only have to pass it again with a simple majority to send it back to the President. If the President objects again, then he can send it back again, but this time it would take a two-thirds vote of Parliament for the bill to become law.

Anti-gay sentiment in Uganda is high enough that reaching the two-thirds bar would not be at all difficult. So the main opportunities to derail the bill would be to slow-walk it through its paces between now and 2016 when the current Parliament expires. Those four years may seem like an extraordinarily long time in most democracies, but Uganda’s Parliament runs on “Uganda time,” where bills have languished for a decade or more.

As for grounds that Museveni may use if he should decide to send the bill back to Parliament, he can find them in the minority report drafted by members of Parliament’s Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee, which examines each clause of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill and provides legal and constitutional grounds for rejecting the entire bill.


December 26th, 2013

An additional ground that Museveni could use is that the bill was not actually passed, since Parliamentary procedure was not followed as there was no advance notice and no quorum.

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