Report: Uganda President Sends Anti-Homosexuality Bill Back to Parliament (UPDATED)
January 16th, 2014
Daily Monitor, Uganda’s largest independent newspaper, has these developments under the headline, “Museveni Blocks Anti-Homosexuality Bill.”
President Museveni has confronted Speaker Rebecca Kadaga for passing the controversial Anti-gays Bill without quorum and described homosexuals as “abnormal” beings who can be “rescued” through economic empowerment.
In an eight-page letter to Speaker and MPs dated December 28, 2013, the President said he was forced to contrite on the issue by “a small group of our MPs, led by Hon Kadaga” who forced through the Bill even after he had advised to shelve it until the government had studied it in depth.
“Some elements, however, insisted and even without quorum of Parliament, passed it,” the President said. “How can you pass law without the quorum of Parliament after it has been pointed out? What sort of Parliament is this? How can Parliament be the one to break the Constitution and the Law repeatedly?”
The rest of the Daily Monitor article is loaded with Museveni’s peculiar theories about homosexuality:
While in the Bill passed by Parliament there is no provision for killing homosexuals; the President said, “The question at the core of the debate of homosexuality is; what do we do with an abnormal person? Do we kill him/her? Do we imprison him/her? Or we do contain him/her?”
While the President said homosexuality is an abnormal condition that can be cured, he disagreed with the position of Western countries that homosexuality is an “alternative sexual orientation”. “You cannot call an abnormality an alternative orientation. It could be that the Western societies, on account of random breeding, have generated many abnormal people,” he said, adding that his acid test for rejecting Western position is that nature is purposeful.
The President said apart from the people who are abnormal, it seems there is a group of those that become homosexual for “mercenary reasons”—they get recruited on account of financial inducements. He said this is a group that can be rescued and that many of the youth fall in this category.
But the important point is this: If Daily Monitor has it right, it would appear that the ball is now back in Parliament’s court, where Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, who reportedly harbors Presidential ambitions herself, has been an outspoken supporter of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. According to Uganda’s Constitution, the President can send the bill back to Parliament twice before Parliament must muster a two-thirds majority to force the bill into law. What remains unclear is whether this constitutes the bill’s first return trip to Parliament under the constitution if Parliament didn’t have the proper quorum to pass the bill in the first place.
Update: Caution may be in order. According to Daily Monitor, the letter was dated December 28. Multiple news reports since the start of the new year have Museveni saying that he will bring the Anti-Homosexuality Bill before the entire ruling party caucus before deciding whether to give his assent or send it back to Parliament. But this report has him sending it back before bringing it before the caucus. Now that doesn’t mean he hasn’t sent it back. But if he did, it changes the character and possible outcomes for the party caucus. I think more clarification and confirmation is in order before we celebrate.