Signs of trouble for Uganda's anti-gay bill

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Uganda’s harsh Anti-Homosexuality Bill seems to be in trouble, although it could be turned into a law overnight if President Yoweri Museveni were to sign it.

Parliament passed the measure on Dec. 20 and sent it to Museveni, who has 30 days to sign it or send it back to parliament, where a two-thirds majority vote could make it into the law of the land.

Soon after its passage, Museveni suggested that he might not sign the bill, which would impose life imprisonment for same-sex intimacy and up to for  seven years in prison for “promoting homosexuality.” He said he would review the text of the bill before making a decision.

“If I find that it is right, I will sign, but if I find that it is not right, I will send it back to Parliament,” he said.

This week, Museveni asked the ruling NRM party’s caucus in the parliament to review the bill, which it did Jan. 9. NBS Television reported about that meeting:

“A source in the caucus meeting told NBS Television that many of the MPs who overwhelmingly supported the passing of the anti-homosexuality bill, had made a U-turn and supported the reconsideration of the bill.

“The source added that some members had tabled a proposal to have the Act pushed back to Parliament, a scenario reminiscent to the controversies that dogged debate on the oil laws.”

Rebecca Kadaga, speaker of Ugandan parliament
Rebecca Kadaga, speaker of Ugandan parliament

Many international financial supporters of Uganda have urged Museveni not to sign the bill. British billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson urged companies and tourists to boycott Uganda over the bill.

The pressure has grown intense enough that parliament’s speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, who supports the bill, complained that the country was being bullied.  She complained that Uganda was being held to a different standard from other African countries with similar laws, such as Nigeria and Senegal.

If enacted, the bill would also face court challenges, because opponents say it is unconstitutional. In addition, parliament passed the bill despite an objection from Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi that a quorum was not present.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]


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