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Uganda’s Parliament Agrees to Motion to Consider Anti-Homosexuality Bill, April 29, 2009

Jim Burroway

December 20th, 2009

A portion of the official transcript of proceedings of the Ugandan Parliament on Wednesday, April 29, 2009. This discussion was to consider a motion allowing MP David Bahati to submit the Anti-Homosexuality Bill as a private member’s bill. That bill would be submitted on October 14. Taken from the official web site of the Parliament of Uganda.

THE DEPUTY SPEAKER (Rebecca Kadaga): Let us hear from hon. Bahati. In connection with the motion he is moving, we have in the gallery Apostle Julius Peter Oyet, Vice-President of the Born Again Federation; Pastor Dr Martin Sempa of the Family Policy Centre; Stephen Langa, Family Life Network; hon. Godfrey Nyakaana; the Mayor of Kampala City Council; Julius, a young boy who was sodomised, and his mother. His story has been in the press. They are all here in the gallery. Please, let us deal with them so that they can leave. There is also George Oundo who came out to speak against homosexuality. Please, let us balance the public good and our good since all of them are important. We shall do them all very quickly. Hon. Bahati.

6.24

MR DAVID BAHATI (NRM, Ndorwa County West, Kabale): Thank you, Madam Speaker, for the opportunity to move a motion seeking leave of Parliament to introduce a Private Members Bill moved under Rule 47, 105 and 106. Some of the few copies available are going to be circulated in a minute. I beg the indulgence of Members that I move on.

“WHEREAS Article 79 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda empowers Parliament to make laws on any matter for peace, order, development and good governance;

AND WHEREAS Article 31, clause (1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda legalises marriage between a man and a woman;

AWARE THAT the same Constitution under Article 31 specifically prohibits marriage between persons of the same sex;

AND FURTHER AWARE that sections 45, 46 and 47 of the Penal Code Act create unnatural offences, attempt to commit unnatural offences and the offence of indecent assault on boys under the age of 18 respectively, these provisions do not adequately address the problem of homosexuality;

CONSIDERING THAT there is no comprehensive Act of Parliament that deals with homosexuality and;

FURTHER CONSIDERING that the position of government which is also reflected in the Constitution opposes legalisation of homosexuality;

NOTING THAT the major targets of homosexuality campaigns are the vulnerable youth, children and the destitute;

GIVEN THAT Parliament has enacted its Rules of Procedure, pursuant to Article 94 of the Constitution which also empowers a Member of Parliament to move a Private Members Bill under Rules 105 and 106;

NOW, THEREFORE, this motion is moved that the House grants me leave to introduce a Private Members Bill for an Act entitled Anti-homosexuality Bill, 2009, a draft is hereto attached, and do order the publication of the said Bill in preparation for the first reading.”

I beg to move.

THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: It is seconded.

MR ERIAS LUKWAGO (DP, Kampala Central, Kampala): Thank you, Madam Speaker. I am seeking guidance from you. The Bill that the honourable member is seeking to bring here is about homosexuality. As a practising lawyer, I and everybody else here who has taken trouble to read the Penal Code will find that homosexuality is an offence under the Penal Code. The guidance that I am seeking is whether we need any other legislation when the practice is expressly prohibited in the Penal Code, a penalty provided and people are being charged in courts of law? As Parliament, are we really moving on a proper course to legislate on a matter, which is already prohibited under the Penal Code? I seek your guidance, Madam Speaker.

MR ODONGA OTTO (FDC, Aruu County, Pader): Madam Speaker, in relation to what hon. Lukwago has said, there would be a legal departure from the previous clarification that hon. Lukwago sought when we were debating the FGM. In my legal opinion, in the previous situation you cannot talk of prohibiting because there may be aspects of regulation that have to come in, while taking into consideration the concerns of hon. Seninde.

However, in this case, honestly speaking I have not even seen the draft Bill and I am wondering what the contents will be because the fact remains that homosexuality is banned in the Constitution so I am just wondering what the contents of the Bill would be. I would personally agree with hon. Lukwago’s argument and say that we cannot legislate on everything. In fact, legislation on these sensitive issues will even teach our children about them. So the guidance I am seeking is whether we need an Anti-Homosexual Bill and if we need it, what the contents would be?

6.29

THE MINISTER OF STATE, REGIONAL AFFAIRS (Mr Isaac Musumba): Madam Speaker, this country has of late been besieged and is under attack from homosexual advocates and people who do unnatural things to each other. People are even talking about men marrying men. Those practices out there have come in the past two or three years and become so pronounced that our children, and I am a father of several boys, are in danger. Therefore, the statement that is being made by this country is that we should have a law that expressly says no homosexuality will be permitted in this country.

As you ruled earlier when we were discussing the FGM, it is a question of making a statement. Nothing says that if you have a section in the Penal Code you cannot expound on a particular matter in a separate law. There will be no inconsistency and it is something that is permissible under the law. For example, if you read the Penal Code, you will find that we have a problem of the definition of a gay marriage and other unnatural offences. We want a law that clearly states all these things so that we can use it to rid this country of this scourge. I support the motion.

6.31

MS ALICE ALASO (FDC, Woman Representative, Soroti): Madam Speaker, this country and Parliament must have the courage to defend its young people, to defend the stability of this nation and to follow the precedents that are already set in this House. It is wrong to steal and the Penal Code provides for theft but before us we have an Anti-Corruption Bill. Why do we have it when that is also theft?

I think we must have the courage to make a statement regarding the influence of homosexuals and the people with money who want to influence our children and mislead our nation -(Interruption)

MR ODONGA OTTO: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The impression that the honourable colleague is giving when she says we need to build courage does not augur well with my understanding. No one supports homosexuality in this House; not even me or hon. Lukwago. What we are raising are the legal aspects; if we needed to legislate on everything we would need a Treason Act, an Anti-Theft Act, an Anti-Lying Act. It is just a legal principle we are trying to push forward. Is hon. Alaso in order to insinuate that others are not courageous when we are defending our profession in public?

THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Members, I don’t know whether you are tuned to current events here where UNICEF has published and distributed a book in our schools informing children that it is okay to have same sex marriages in Uganda; our children, in this country! She is in order. Please, proceed.

MS ALASO: Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. If we went by the argument of the legal experts in the House, how would we handle the publications that are being made on homosexuality? Where do we address matters of rehabilitation because this is a traumatising experience? People need rehabilitation from being homosexuals to get back to normal behaviour. How do we sort out these matters just by a mere provision in the Penal Code? We should be – (Interruption)

MR OGENGA-LATIGO: Thank you, Madam Speaker and I thank my honourable colleague for giving way. I would beg that our learned brothers look at the Bill. It is not about criminalising homosexuality but an anti-homosexual one, which is different even from criminalising, which is already done. “Anti” means that we are going to provide for how we can campaign against it, what we must do with those who promote it, et cetera.

THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: I think he has conceded.

MR ODONGA OTTO: Madam Speaker, given what hon. Alaso has said about the need to regulate these people and how to handle them, I concede and abandon my legal issues.

THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Wonderful!

MS ALASO: Madam Speaker, I want to thank my honourable colleagues because there is also the social context which we have to put into the legal arguments and the provision for regulation. Most importantly as actors, we need to tell people what they should do. What should be the role of an LC I in the light of these developments in our country? I want to support this and urge that let the Bill be given an opportunity; let the leave of the House be given so that this Bill is tabled. Thank you.

THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Now move your motion.

MR BAHATI: Madam Speaker, I have laid a copy of the draft Bill but I just wanted to make one or two points in justification of the motion for completeness of the record and to assure our learned friends that the red volumes will never be full at any one time.

I just want to mention one simple case that happened on Easter Sunday when everybody was busy celebrating the Holy Day, we were shocked to read in The Sunday Monitor a headline about an 11 year old boy, Julius, who is here with us in the gallery allegedly being sodomised and expelled from his school and officials from Mulago reported damaged splinter muscles in his anus, which led to uncontrollable flow of human waste. More painfully, Julius’s alleged attacker, Herman Kalule Kirumira was left to go free and has used this opportunity to harass and intimidate this boy and the mother who happens to be a widow.

Reports of this nature have come out in the recent past and I know that for each Julius we read about, there are thousands whose stories are unexposed and never make it to the headlines. Many people have been crying for our help and no more should we be silent about this creeping threat of homosexuality to our children and our families.

There has been propaganda especially in schools and using cartoons to exploit our young people that to be a homo or a lesbian is okay. I think, Madam Speaker, this propaganda is against God’s natural law and the law of the land. We know and believe as Ugandans that any sexual activity outside the bonds of union of marriage between a man and woman is immoral and has never been our culture. Whereas there is an argument that there are people who are born homosexuals and naturally get attracted to people of their sex, there is abundant evidence to suggest that there is no scientific evidence to validate this argument. And many of these supporters say that to be attracted to a person of the same sex is a right. I think we have so many rights in this country and in the world but I do not think that the right to homosexuality is one of them; not at least in Uganda.

Today they are talking about a right to homosexuality, tomorrow it might be a right to walk naked or to defilement. And I think the so called right will lead to the destruction of our social fabric and value system. We cannot afford to see this pass on as we watch.

Madam Speaker, we are working hard for the future of our children but I think we should never forget that the best inheritance we pass on to the next generation is a society built on values and norms that standardize certain responsibilities that make society function. And among these responsibilities is bearing and raising children; being a husband and a father; being a wife and a mother and these responsibilities are undoubtedly God given and specifically heterosexual.

The way independence was a defining issue during the colonial days and peace was a defining issue during the world wars and wealth creation during the great depression, defending the natural and traditional family is one of the key defining issues of our time. As people’s representatives, we cannot afford to tinker on the edges; we cannot afford to be intimidated. Let the message go forth from this House that Ugandans shall never trade their dignity -(Applause)- and cultural values for money or anything whatsoever. This Bill, therefore, provides an opportunity to strengthen our legal system in order to protect our society. Uganda needs a comprehensive and enhanced legislation to protect cultural, legal, religious and traditional values! We need to protect our children and youth who are being made vulnerable to sexual abuse as a result of cultural intrusion and uncensored information technologies.

The land of the law and the Penal Code do not address this issue adequately and that is why we are bringing this issue to this House. Madam Speaker, as I end, I would like to make one request to this House to grant me leave to introduce a Private Member’s Bill to address this creeping evil in Uganda. And I want to earnestly say that this is the first step, Parliament can do best on the front of the laws. I want to call upon the Church leaders, cultural leaders and the Imams to strengthen their service of teaching and preaching against homosexuality as well as rehabilitating the victims of homosexuality and helping them in finding their true nature as man and woman fully capable and responsible of raising a natural and heterosexual family.

Hon. Members, with your help and that of all stakeholders, we have been developing this with the help of many stakeholders; many of them who are in the gallery have been introduced. The Church of Uganda, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Mosques – the Sheikhs have been with us. We thank the legal department of Parliament and other Members who have contributed to this. I want to promise that with your help and that of the stakeholders, we will come up with a good legislation for which after 100 years from now our children will look back and say, “Yes the Eighth Parliament did something good for Uganda; true Uganda provided leadership on this issue in the world.” I beg to move. (Applause)

6.43

MR BENSON OBUA-OGWAL (UPC, Moroto County, Lira): Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the mover of this motion for ably justifying and I stand up to second him. Just yesterday, for those of you who watched NTV Tonight and the late night news, you might have seen an episode which happened in Mukono where a teacher called Ssemondo Simon from Zion Primary School, Nakisunga sub-county told a 13 year old boy to take water to his house and he sodomised him. That was on the 15th of April – this month. Fortunately, this brave boy reported the teacher and he was arrested; he was arraigned before court in Mukono Grade II Magistrates’ Court and Charles Kasidi, the magistrate, remanded him to Luzira until the 14th when this case will be brought back to court for mention.

I am holding The Weekly Observer of this week, Monday 27th to 29th Volume VI No.101 page 14. There is a headline on page 14 which says, “Homosexuality Creeps into Primary Schools” written by Diana Nabiruma. In that piece, Madam Speaker, four pupils from Umar B.A Islamic Centre have been expelled from school for practising homosexuality. Actually one of them was discovered with rotting anal orifice. This is becoming a pandemic and if we allow it to continue we are going to lose. And this makes me pose a question; where is this country going if we allow such acts to continue creeping amongst us.

In America, they call those who practice homosexual activity as straight people and there is an agenda now to overhaul this system. In fact, there is a book called “Overhauling Straight America”, which is a very serious agenda to turn America upside down and make everybody homosexual. I am afraid the strategy that they have developed in that book is already happening in this country and if we are not careful and if we continue to remain silent, we are going to be the losers! I could go on and give you the strategy, which they want to use but there is no time.

The forces behind homosexuality are not sleeping. They are working day and night and yet in this country we are leaving this struggle in the hands of a few people. Dr Martin Sempa has been acknowledged, Mr Steven Langa, Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi and other religious leaders. In our own House here, we have left it to hon. Dr Nsaba Buturo. We can no longer afford to be silent observers.

I would like to submit here that at a personal level, the struggle comes down to us. There is no neutral zone in this struggle especially if you are a parent and I know many of you are parents of young children. We need to inoculate our children against these practices. The problem is bigger than we think and diseases are escalating, diseases which we never knew before. There is anal Gonorrhoea which is now rampant, anal Syphilis, Hepatitis C which is transmitted by this practice.

Let me submit to the House that internationally there is a move to force every nation in the world to submit to this vice. And if we allow them to get away with it, we will be the sufferers. The UN is coming up with a political decision which will force every nation to legally recognise homosexuality. That is if what France is trying to sponsor in the UN is allowed to move. They are coming up with a law which makes it criminal for anybody to utter anything against homosexuals. That is coming!

In the commonwealth, which by the way Uganda chairs, on the 8th there was the 16th Commonwealth Law Conference in Hong Kong. This conference was dedicated to the issue of homosexuality and there were so many people who were supposed to be respected like hon. Justice Michael Kirby Ac Cmg – I do not know what it means – who is a Justice of the High Court of Australia, by the way he was also a one time President of International Commission of Jurists.

He submitted a paper entitled, “Homosexual Law Reform: An Ongoing Blind Spot of the Commonwealth of Nations”. In that paper, he was trying to promote homosexuality in the commonwealth. We have a problem on our hands and, further, I would not like to imagine what will happen if commonwealth decides to make homosexuality a legal thing, at a time when Uganda is the chair.

I have heard a few cowardly voices in the corridors which purport that if we do not support homosexuality, then Uganda stands to lose aid. Madam Speaker, I would like to say that we cannot afford to mortgage and sacrifice the future of our children on the altar of aid and that is why we have to stand firm. (Applause) We have oil and very soon Uganda will be a donor in real terms, and we can afford to do without aid if it is pegged to homosexuality.

In conclusion, I want to appeal for support for this motion and I would like to urge this House that we should not fear to act, but we should not act out of fear. We should sacrifice the present for the sake of the future. I thank you.

6.53

THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION (Prof. Morris Ogenga-Latigo): Thank you very much, Madam Speaker and I thank my colleagues, hon. Bahati and hon. Ogwal for their motion. I also would like to thank the House for the obvious unanimous support that we have for this matter.

I rise not to add much to what has been said, because the two hon. Members have given the substance and full justification for the motion. My job is first of all to thank them for this motion, to thank you, Madam Speaker, for insisting that it takes precedence even over the matter that was of concern to me. (Applause)

I would like to thank the very courageous Ugandans particularly the individuals who have been victims, who have sacrificed their own ego that normally stops many of us from standing up on matters of serious concern. We know as individuals and families we are deeply aggrieved and we share the pain that you have and the only thing we can do is first of all to do everything possible to ensure that this motion comes as a Bill and as law as quickly as possible.

MR OKUMU: Thank you. I want to inform the Leader of the Opposition that while he acknowledges other people, we should also acknowledge the Archbishop of Uganda, Luke Orombi, for walking away from the Church of England because of homosexuality.

PROF. OGENGA-LATIGO: Thank you. Actually I was coming to that because as the House knows, I am fairly well informed. In fact, the starting point for acknowledging the Archbishop Orombi and many other African Anglican Church leaders was going to start from the very same Observer newspaper that my colleague quoted. I read the newspaper with a whole page where they put two prominent Western people; one is an Anglican Bishop standing with his husband and below that picture was the picture of Sir Elton John, you know the man who sung Candle in the wind when Princess Diana died, with his husband. I was going to come to that and to say if it takes leaving the Church of England so that you can worship your God without the burden of accepting an evil like homosexuality, that would be the greatest thing and I believe that God would be on your side.

I bring the information that hon. Reagan gave me to say thank you very much to Archbishop Orombi and all his colleagues who have stood against homosexuality particularly when the mother Anglican Church began to accept this evil as part of rights, God’s will and I do not know what to say of those who support it. I would like to thank all the clergy men and women who have stood with us, all the politicians, all the civil leaders and I would like to move a motion that the question be put.

THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Members, I put the question that the question be now put.

(Question put and agreed to.)

THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: I now put the question that this House do authorise the honourable member to move the Private Member’s Bill.

(Question put and agreed to.)

(Motion adopted.)

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