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A One-Sided Debate on Homosexuality in Uganda’s Parliament, April 15, 2009

Jim Burroway

December 20th, 2009

A portion of the official transcript of proceedings of the Ugandan Parliament on Wednesday, April 15, 2009. This discussion was of a report by Minister of Ethics and Integrity James Nsaba Buturo on homosexuality. Taken from the official web site of the Parliament of Uganda.

3.30

THE MINISTER OF STATE, OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, ETHICS AND INTEGRITY (Dr James Nsaba Buturo): Mr Speaker, I request that copies of the statement be distributed to honourable members.

Hon. Members will recall that both the National Anthem and the Motto of Uganda are about God and Uganda. As much as possible, most Ugandans strive to be guided by standards that God has prescribed. To the best of my knowledge, those standards do not include the promotion of anal sex at the expense of heterosexual sex as a means of maintaining human reproduction.

If Government were to legalise marriage between men and men, and women and women, we would be talking about a threat to human civilisation. In such a marriage, either of two individuals decides to act as a husband or wife to the other. This situation is what is known as homosexuality or same-gender marriage.

Lately, Mr Speaker, some international groups and countries have been demanding that Uganda should legalise homosexuality. Those behind this abnormal, unhealthy, unnatural as well as illegal lifestyle have argued that doing so would be a human right and in defence of freedom. In Uganda, UNICEF, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Frontline Human Rights Defenders, and East and Horn of Africa Human Rights groups have been in the forefront of a campaign to legalise homosexuality.

The groups above have been assisted by local NGOs that depend on them for funding this propaganda among our population. In fact, ten years ago UNICEF helped in the funding and distribution of books to schools, which were unknown to the Ministry of Education and Sports, and they were popularising homosexuality. Following UNICEF’s unwelcome intervention, I recently wrote to the Minister of Education and Sports to express our resentment of their promotion of illegality and called for a tough response that would curb such intrusions.

Mr Speaker, the 1995 Constitution, Article 31 (1), provides: “Men and women of the age of 18 years and above have the right to marry and to found a family and are entitled to equal rights in marriage during marriage and at its dissolution.”

Clause 3 of the same Article further provides thus: “Marriage shall be entered into with the free consent of the man and woman intending to marry.”

Mr Speaker, permit me to draw the attention of the hon. Members to the fact that the 2005 amendment of the Constitution created a new Article 31 (2) (a), which specifically prohibits homosexuality. The law therefore is clear.

The position of the Government in excluding same sex individuals from marrying is comprehensively and unequivocally against homosexuality. The scope of this exclusion undoubtedly includes the sexual act. The Government, however, goes beyond this and constitutionally bars homosexuals from entitlement to the enjoyment of rights conferred to married persons under the law.

The law criminalises homosexuality under section 145 and 146 of the Penal Code Act of Uganda, Cap 120, Volume 6 of the Laws of Uganda. It states as follows:

“Any person who-

(a) Has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; or

(b) has carnal knowledge of an animal; or

(c) permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature;

commits an offence and is liable to imprisonment for life.”

The difference in the two sub sections is that in (a) the offence is in respect of both male (gays) and females (lesbians) engaging in unnatural acts, while subsection (c) is in respect of only a male committing the offence, which we call sodomy. Section 146 of the same Act further criminalises and penalises those persons that attempt to commit the unnatural offences stated in Section 145 mentioned above. The sentence for this felony is imprisonment for seven years. Therefore, the law under Section 145 (c) of the Penal Code Act of Uganda clearly provides for the offence of homosexuality in as far as it penalises any person who permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him against the order of nature.

Mr Speaker, for the information of hon. Members, there are over 70 countries that have categorically outlawed homosexuality. That means there are many countries around the world that see things our way. They are prepared to lead the rest of the world in insisting that nature must not be tampered with for the sake of the philosophy that anything goes. That said, both promoters and apologists of homosexuality are using all the tricks in the book to have it legalised in countries such as Uganda where it is outlawed. The latest is the attempt to use the United Nations to pass a resolution they hoped would be binding to all countries in the world.

At the United Nations, there are attempts by some countries to highlight sexual rights, which we believe will be used to promote homosexuality and pornography. Uganda is in a unique position to stop all this since she is a member of the G-77 voting block. Our representative to the UN, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, currently chairs the Organisation of Islamic Countries conferences on the Commission that is leading certain negotiations.

It is important that we do not compromise on the values that we stand for. Uganda must stand firm, whatever our friends say. The world is looking to Uganda for leadership on this vital question of human reproduction. (Laughter)

Mr Speaker, two weeks ago, I wrote to Ambassador Dr Ruhakana Rugunda and reminded him of Uganda’s position, which opposes legalisation of homosexuality. It is the duty of Ugandans to be vigilant because agents of immorality are busy using all lies and deception to hurt our society. Such lies include claims that some people are born homosexuals. The truth of the matter is that there is no scientific evidence that supports this outlandish claim. If their claim were true, they would not be busy buying their way into our schools and other sections of society, enticing the people there to become homosexuals. Let it be remembered that many former homosexuals have denounced their deviance and reverted to their original normal condition.

Government is aware that some non governmental organisations are recruiting our youth and taking them abroad under the pretext of giving them education, when in fact their motive is to turn them into homosexuals who will then come back and spread the vice. There are many others as well as individuals that are in this country quietly recruiting our people into this illegal, unnatural and abnormal practice of homosexuality. Government will take appropriate steps to rectify this dangerous development.

Uganda will not be forced to legalise a practice that we consider illegal, unnatural and abnormal. It is not a practice we can defend, if we are to protect our families. Having known that the current law on homosexuality is weak, Government will instead proceed to enact a more comprehensive one, which will treat as illegal, among other things, the promotion of homosexuality and membership to homosexual groups.

Because pornography and homosexuality are bedfellows in their campaign to render apart our way of life, a Bill on pornography will be presented to this august House very shortly. Soon after that, a Bill on homosexuality will also be tabled.

Mr Speaker, Government appeals to Ugandans to remain vigilant because quite a number of our schools have been penetrated and havoc is being rendered there. It has gone to other institutions as well. Promoters of this abnormal practice work discreetly and include people in positions of responsibility in our land.

Government also calls upon religious leaders to work with Government in fighting this type of immorality. Our appeal to the media is clear – they should not give oxygen or publicity to these groups which are operating on fringes of our society.

Lastly, Mr Speaker and hon. Members, I would like to say that Government does not hate homosexuals; Government only hates the act of promoting anal sex by gays or use of gadgets by lesbians. To this end, Government will do everything possible to counsel and support victims of homosexuality with a view to encourage them to resume normal life.

It is worth noting that even goats are capable of distinguishing between he-goats and she-goats. (Laughter) Why should homosexuals want to relegate human beings to a level where they are incapable of differentiating between a male and a female and vice versa? If we were to legalise homosexuality, wouldn’t it spell the end of human civilisation as we know it today? Where would children come from to take over from us when we all go away from this earth? What about God’s command that we should reproduce for procreation? Government believes that the traditional family must be protected from those who wish to destroy it. Thank you, Mr Speaker. (Applause)

THE SPEAKER: Thank you very much. Let us have hon. Kibanzanga.

3.43

SHADOW MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND NATIONAL GUIDANCE (Mr Christopher Kibanzanga): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I thank the minister for his statement though it gives sad memories and situations.

Mr Speaker and hon. Members, I would like to debate this statement using a moral rule, which states that there shall never be human rights and freedoms against humanity. We cannot respect your human rights and freedoms if they are against humanity. Homosexuality is evil; it is a sin and a crime. Why do I think so? It is because it goes against God’s will, against the law of natural justice and against our national values.

In Africa and the world at large, we value families. What is a family? Can you generate a family by being a homosexual? Can you produce children? Can a society reproduce itself because men are sleeping with men?

Mr Speaker and hon. Members, our Constitution does not allow this practice. Our laws do not allow this and our cultures do not allow homosexuality. I do not know where the Minister has found problems in dealing with it. What is the problem? Is the Government immoral itself? I am saying this because the law is in place to curtail this vice. We know that you have opened up society unnecessarily, but that cannot permit extermination of the human race. You can imagine if all of us were homosexuals, you will have exterminated the human race and there would never be society tomorrow.

Hon. Minister of Ethics and Integrity, why don’t you fight this -(Interjections)- No, this statement is not enough. The other day I failed to explain to my children a picture of homosexuals that had appeared on the first page of the New Vision – a government paper! I think it appeared two weeks ago. They were addressing a press conference in some hotel on Acacia Avenue. The police was not there to follow up this matter and neither was the minister nor the entire Government. Now, some of us who are parents and are responsible were at pain to explain to our children what was happening. Imagine a child asking you, “Daddy, explain to me how a man can sleep with another man”; what do you say as a parent?

As a Shadow Minister in charge of national guidance -(Laughter)- you have my support to stop this vice from entering our society. (Applause) We must exterminate homosexuals before they exterminate society.

We know you have received everything from the West including rotten and counterfeit goods, and you have opened up the country for all those sorts of things, but we cannot afford to open up our society to homosexuality. We must exterminate them. I thank you, Mr Speaker, and I thank you, hon. Members.

3.48

MS BEATRICE ANYWAR (FDC, Woman Representative, Kitgum): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I thank the minister for coming up with this statement. As a parent, I think it has been long overdue but well, better late than never.

The issue of homosexuality in this country scares us as parents and as a nation because the future is really being contaminated. It worries me when I read this statement and find that big international bodies which we have been looking to have been mentioned, for example, UNICEF – the defenders of children. What is it? This has scared me because I look at UNICEF when we are talking about children. Now, I think we must think very seriously about our country. I hear even the UN is being lobbied for evil.

It should not surprise us that normally the poor in society are the most vulnerable hence Uganda is almost at the top of it.

I would like the government not to only mention these bodies – because these are big international bodies – but there should be some diplomatic ties we have and communication to that effect. As a mother, I would be comfortable if you engaged these bodies, for the interest of this country and for the interest of the future of these youth, and saw to it that we are dealing with people who are ethically cautious.

They want to say, “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.” It could be okay maybe outside this country, but as Ugandans we are saying that this is poison for the future generation as well as the current generation. We are dealing with people we do not understand and whose psychology we cannot determine.

The minister has outlined that we have laws in place as per now, but he also admitted that they have been really weak. All this time that we have had these laws in place, have we successfully even prosecuted two people who have been engaged in homosexuality or has the whole set of laws in place been a failure? If they are a failure, it is very urgent that we immediately change these laws to address the need of our society. We need to prosecute people who are contaminating the African society. We have cultural values that we have to protect. If these laws are weak, please urgently come to the Floor of Parliament so that we do something about it. We should not just be saying, “We shall look at it.” When? It is urgent.

It was also outlined on page 5 that we have gadgets in this country – although the minister did not mention the gadgets so I remain guessing what type of gadgets we have- that are being used by the lesbians. If these gadgets are here, can we have an immediate ban on their importation into this country rather than just lament about them and let them circulate among our people? I believe we do not manufacture these gadgets. I call upon the Government to immediately ban their importation. We glorify investors bringing in fake things but we do not deserve it all. We should be able to say, “No” to those which are contaminating our society.

I would also like to salute the church leaders who have stood very firmly to say that we do not need help from dirty hands, from those who we think are doing bad things. They should not blindfold us by giving us gifts. I think as a country, we should also stand up if some countries are sending poison to our country. However, because we are beggars, we continue not calling a spade a spade because we need help from them. We should detest help from such friends who bring it with double-edged swords. We do not want them to give us help and at the same time contaminate our society.

I want to see this Government identify people we are dealing with who are ethically upright. We do not want to deal with people who will give us help and at the same time distribute books in our schools which are contaminating our children.

Lastly, Mr Speaker, we would like to call upon the government to partner with all those who care to eradicate this evil. We, parents, know that there are some schools, especially the single sex schools, where children do horrible things. A long time ago, there was a school where one child was killed because he never brought water for another child yet he was supposed to act like a wife.

I want us to partner with institutions like schools and put stringent laws. Churches and families must also be brought on board to eradicate this evil. I do not want to think that my children or any of our children in this House are engaged in this. So to eradicate this, we must start from our families; check on our children and partner with schools, hospitals and churches. I thank you, Mr Speaker.

3.56

MS GRACE OBURU (NRM, Woman Representative, Tororo): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, and I would like to thank the minister for this elaborate report, which he has brought to our attention. I would like to comment on two issues. Since it is well known that there are a few organisations, which the minister has mentioned here, is there no way that the country can further investigate these people and even outlaw them from this country? This is because they are killing our culture.

Secondly, I would like to see, among the penalties that a homosexual practitioner should get, an addition to the already existing penalty of life imprisonment. Since we still have the death penalty, we should actually condemn these people to death because they are killing our children and actually desirous of exterminating Ugandans. They just want to come and occupy this land.

Much as they are doing this and teaching children these manners that even our forefathers did not have, this thing is going to spread like hot fire. We would like the government to take this very seriously because I understand that single sex schools also practice this. The leadership in these single sex schools should also be investigated.

Mr Speaker, I would like to reiterate the idea of having these people who come into the country investigated because they come under the cover of helping us yet they have a hidden agenda. Can we know their terms of reference? That is how they camouflage – under the cover of helping us because we are a poor country yet they are bringing us a vice, which is not in our culture. I thank you.

3.58

MR HILARY ONEK (NRM, Lamwo County, Kitgum): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I think this paper is very timely, and I wish the law would also come very soon to the Floor of the House to ensure that this practice is criminalised effectively and those involved in the practice are punished severely.

I would like us to have some solutions alongside. I understand that homosexuality is practiced in our prisons. Recently in the papers, they wrote that prisoners were celebrating when one Jewish prisoner was going to jail because they were going to feast on him. I think one of the things that government should do is find out and separate homosexuals and have separate prisons for them where they are not going to mix with and contaminate those who have gone there for reformation.

Secondly, married prisoners should start enjoying conjugal rights because starving them for long can create difficulties. I think those are things that must be implemented among other concerns. The L.C systems must also start watching out for homosexuals so that they are identified and shamed or made to face the law.

Finally, I would like the medical people to do more homework and check the brains of homosexuals as it could be a disease that can be cured. Maybe their hormones are not normal or something of that sort. Those are my few contributions, and I think that a practical approach will, in part, solve the problem. Thank you.

4.01

MR SANTOS PIRO (Independent, East Moyo, Adjumani): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, and I thank the honourable minister for this paper. I would like to ask the minister whether he is thinking about lowering the age limit of the youth. This is because these days maturity is attained so early to the extent that nature does not wait for one to reach 18 years. I think it is very important to lower the age limit from 18 to 16 years for persons who feel they should interact in marriage so that they can go ahead and do so. In most cases, and especially in schools, homosexuality is practiced amongst those of 14 years to 16 years. This is as a result of urging them to wait until they reach the age of 18 years.

Secondly, I think it is very important for Government to create jobs for the youth. This is because poverty drives the youth to receive money from these agents in exchange for recruitment into homosexuality. So if the youth are kept -(Interruption)

MS AKIROR: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would like to find out whether it is really in order for the honourable member holding the Floor to try to advocate for the lowering of the age of consent to 16 years yet it was constitutionally resolved that 18 years and above is the consent age for sex. He is trying to promote defilement when we are trying to fight homosexuality. Is he really in order?

THE SPEAKER: Well, I think he is suggesting lowering the age limit. This practice has happened; there was a time when you could only be called an adult at the age of 21 years but it was reduced to 18 years and now at this age you can even vote. So he is advocating for a change of policy and I think that is okay.

MR SANTOS: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for your wise ruling. I was saying that Government should create more jobs for the youth because it is partly redundancy which causes them to get involved in getting money for these agents who recruit the youths into immoral acts.

Government should also put a mechanism in place so that parents are educated about discussions on issues of marriage amongst the youth.

In my village, parents instead of being transparent to the youth about sexual activities, they look at engagement in relationship as if it is criminal in society. As a result, youth look at engagement in relationships as something which should be done secretly. In the process you find that the girls and boys engage in sex secretly. They get to learn about these God-given activities which they are supposed to mature into. They practice it amongst themselves and that is really one way of learning homosexuality. I thank you, Mr Speaker.

(Members rose_)

THE SPEAKER: But hon. Members, we have two more statements, including one on Kasese. It appears we have all agreed on the statement. Can’t we really save that time so that we hear the two statements and debate on them? We have so far taken 25 minutes. Don’t you agree that we get the two statements? [Members: “yes”] Thank you very much.

4.06

MS BEATRICE BYENKYA (NRM, Woman Representative Hoima):
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I am going to be brief because I am in agreement with everything the minister has said but as usual we do a lot of talking and a little of implementation.

One of the things I wish Government to come up with and it was really clearly portrayed when hon. Nekema came up and said that it might be a disease, cabinet is not totally in agreement whether it is a disease or a behavioural anomaly.

Government should first of all come up- where do they place homosexuality? Is it a disease or an abnormal behaviour? It is up to them because I have ever heard some ministers saying, “Well it is a disease we should consider,” and it is such a disease that people have to be conscripted into behaving in such a way.

That notwithstanding, I feel Government should come up- instead of just making statements here, the children should be sensitised of what homosexuality is since we have been talking about other things, we should also sensitises the youth starting from an early age- (Interruption)

MR NANADALA-MAFABI: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I thank my colleague for giving way. Recently, Pastor Kiwewesi was being held for homosexuality and sodomy. He went for refugee in the minister’s office, the Ministry of Ethics and Integrity. The Penal Code says you criminalise – Instead of the minister handing over the man to police he protected him. (Laughter)

MR NSABA BUTURO: Mr Speaker, that is a total distortion of what really happened. That story of Pastor Kiwewesi did actually take place at a time when I had a meeting with pastors long before it happened and he happened to be one of the pastors who came. But it is not I was in a cohort with the pastor.

But Mr Speaker, more generally I must say I am encouraged by what the Members are saying. We will be coming up with new proposals which are comprehensive, and I can count on the support of the hon. Members.

MS BYENKYA: Thank you. I didn’t expect that piece of information. I am talking about sensitising our children against the vice of homosexuality, not talking about it.

And Mr Minister, what is it really that you want Parliament to do? Everything is in place, and as far as I know, people are being arrested even by being thought of going to do a particular vice. Why aren’t some of the people who are thought to be involved in this vice arrested? Some of them are known and you can even see them by their way of dressing and appearance. Government has not come up really to address the issue of homosexuality and to arrest the culprits. You should stop talking about it and implement things as they are.

THE SPEAKER: Hon. Members, in the gallery we have members of Kikola Taka Farmers Association from Bulamogi constituency, in Kaliro District represented by hon. Gagawala. You are welcome. (Applause)

MR OKOT OGONG: Mr Speaker, this is a very important statement made by the minister. We have heard from Members but I want us to go beyond the debate here. Let us make a resolution of Parliament, a concrete resolution of Parliament about homosexuality. We need to have a committee that will draft that resolution and Members of Parliament must pass that resolution for us to give the minister support against the fight of homosexuality.

THE SPEAKER: What you do, if you have a resolution, draft it and submit it to Parliament. We shall give you space. (Members rose_)

Hon. Members, I think really we should close this debate, because we have all agreed with the principle behind this statement. Now let us wait for the resolution, motion and then we conclude, so that we use this time for another statement.

MR NSABA BUTURO: Mr Speaker, I am just overwhelmed by the support from both sides of the House. As I did indicate, we will be coming shortly with a more comprehensive proposals that will clearly address this very important subject.

Can I therefore request that when that time comes, this overwhelming support that we have seen will be demonstrated at that time so that we can also tell the entire world that Uganda is not going to go the way other countries have.

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