Anti-gay leaders have started plotting their counterattack in the wake of last week’s court ruling that overturned Uganda’s harsh Anti-Homosexuality Act.
A group of Ugandan members of parliament announced today that they are collecting signatures calling for a new vote on the legislation within three days.
Their position is similar to that of Archbishop Stanley Ntagali of the anti-gay Church of Uganda, who on Aug. 4 urged parliament to “consider voting again on the Bill with the proper quorum in place.”
In addition, supporters of the law have called for an appeal to Uganda’s Supreme Court, seeking a reversal of the Constitutional Court ruling on Aug. 1 that overturned the law.
BuzzFeed reported today:
“A group of MPs led by Latif Sebagala said the petition for a re-vote had already collected 100 signatures from MPs. He said that by Friday he believed he would have signatures from a majority of parliament, according to coverage by the Ugandan government transparency website Parliament Watch. …
“But the law’s opponents say parliamentary rules make a quick re-vote impossible. For the Anti-Homosexuality Act to be passed again, lawmakers would have to start the process from scratch.
“That would mean taking steps, such as a review by a committee and an assessment of the legislation’s financial impact from the finance ministry. This step is crucial, because the ministry is under control of President Yoweri Museveni, who has faced harsh criticism from international donors since signing the original legislation in February. If he wants to avoid another confrontation with the U.S., the World Bank, and other donors over the proposal, withholding the financial certification would be a quiet way to kill a new bill.
“Sebagala is calling for House Speaker Rebecca Kadaga to suspend rules of procedure to allow a quick re-vote.”
Archbishop Ntagali called the court ruling a disappointment for the Church of Uganda, religious leaders and many Ugandans, Religion News Service reported:
” ‘The “court of public opinion” has clearly indicated its support for the Act, and we urge Parliament to consider voting again on the Bill with the proper quorum in place,’ Ntagali said on Aug. 4.
“Uganda’s religious leaders had widely supported the law, but opposed an earlier clause threatening the death penalty for some homosexual acts. Most Ugandan church leaders say homosexuality is against God’s order and African cultures. Such a law was needed to protect families, children and youth, the leaders stressed.
” ‘I appeal to all God-fearing people and all Ugandans to remain committed to the support against homosexuality,’ said Ntagali, whose church cut ties with the Episcopal Church, the United States-based branch of Anglicanism, after the election of an openly gay bishop in 2003.”
Uganda’s Constitutional Court threw out the Anti-Homosexuality Act on Aug. 1 on the grounds that it was passed illegally without a quorum of parliament. The court did not rule on the constitutionality of the law itself, which provided for imprisonment for up to seven years for “promoting homosexuality.” (See more provisions of the overturned law in the article “Draconian details of Uganda’s misguided new anti-gay law.”)
The original sponsor of the bill, member of parliament David Bahati, told BuzzFeed that parliament will vote on the bill again after any necessary procedural issues are clarified:
“Any bill will pass through the procedure, and by the rules of procedure we will follow them and we will pass it. … We can suspend any of the rules if we think it is important.”