Spokeswoman: Uganda’s anti-gay bill could be continued to next parliament; Parliament will reconvene Friday

UPDATE: (5:40pm ET) – There are quite a few stories being narrated surrounding today’s session in the Ugandan parliament. The AP describes a walkout by female MPs over the Marriage and Divorce bill which left the plenary session without a quorum. If not for that action, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill might have been debated and passed.

I am getting reports that I cannot confirm about deals being made to get the bill to the floor and others to keep it from the floor. Such is politics and I suspect there will be more angling before Friday.

As of now, the Parliament plans a 10am session start time (instead of the usual 2pm start) to run through the day until the remaining bills are discussed.  According to two parliamentary spokeswomen, members could still vote to continue business to the next Parliament, if the bills are not considered on Friday.

Clearly, the international response has been noticed in Kampala. Governments, including our own, are promising varying responses if the bill passes as is. Less clear is what happens if the bill passes with amendments which remove the death penalty, and do not criminalize attempted homosexuality. Earlier today, David Bahati declined to tell me any additional possible changes, saying the report is embargoed until is it placed on the table in Parliament. I am pretty sure that any bill will be unacceptable to European and US interests, but it is unclear to me how far the Ugandan government will go to try to craft what they would consider to be a compromise.

UPDATE: (12:10pm ET) – Helen Kawesa just told me that Parliament has adjourned but will reconvene on Friday to consider the remaining bills on the agenda. They will begin in the morning and work until all of the bills are considered. The intent is to address all bills. The AHB is the last one and is the most vulnerable but with an all day session, it is possible for it to get a third reading. According to Kawesa, Friday is absolutely the last day however as the new Parliament is sworn in on Monday.

According to bill author, David Bahati, the Parliament will meet at 10am and address the remaining four bills on the current order paper. He declined to predict the response of the Parliament but felt sure that the bill would get a debate and discussion.

UPDATE: As Jim Burroway pointed out in the comments section, there is a revised order paper up on the Uganda Parliament website. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill is on it. I am attempting to clarify the situation with the Parliament.

In talking with a spokeswoman at Parliament, she confirmed that the Parliament could continue bills until the 9th Parliament if the members agreed to forward all bills. The AHB could not be singled out.


Uganda’s Anti-Homosexual Bill is not on today’s parliamentary agenda. This morning parliamentary spokeswoman, Ranny Ismail, told me that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is still in committee. The report on the bill is indeed complete but in their procedure, the bill is still considered in committee and is not on the agenda for business today. She added that no more business would be done in this Parliament.

However, when asked if the anti-gay measure was finished, she said that Parliament could carry forward all unfinished business in all committees if a member makes a motion to do so and the motion passes. She said this has happened before. Because she was unsure about the fate of such a motion, she said she would not know the final outcome  until about 7pm in Kampala (noon est).

This is the first time I have heard that such a maneuver could be attempted. In all prior interviews with anyone connected with the bill, including David Bahati and Stephen Tashobya, the message has been that the bill must be completed by the end of this Parliament in order to avoid starting from scratch in the next one. Ms. Ismail said if a continuing motion is adopted then all work on all bills not completed in this Parliament will continue in the next. If a motion to continue the business is not passed, then she said Bahati would have to start from the beginning and obtain leave from Parliament to introduce another private member’s bill. Given the backlog of bills on today’s order paper, I suspect the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is not the only bill which would be continued.

There are many questions which become clearer at the end of today’s session. However, other issues will take longer to clarify. No doubt opponents of the bill will have mixed feelings about this development. Today and for a time, the bill will be halted. However, if the motion to continue passes, then the matter will persist indefinitely.

I will update this post as I get information.

See posts from Monday and Tuesday for more background.

Last night Rachel Maddow had a segment on the AHB.  A little way into the clip, she features this blog prominently…watch for it.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Watch again tonight at 9pm. I believe she will have a recap of the day’s events.

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  • Maazi NCO

    The information you posted here is not completely accurate. I am certain of it. I am in a kind of hurry. Will comment later.

  • Maazi – I had not heard this before and so I made sure I understood her correctly. If she is wrong, then the AHB is probably done.

  • The AP report quotes an MP ‘John Alimadi’ saying that “the bill may have been dropped from the agenda because of a worldwide outcry against it.” There is no MP with that name. Are they quoting opposition MP John Drazu Arumadri ?

  • I’m confused myself. The Anti-Homosexuality BIll appears last in this order paper:


    The link you provided goes to a page that requires a login.

  • ken

    I’m a bit unclear about the procedure. Is this an All-Or-Nothing case, i.e. either all the unfinished bills have to be passed on to the next parliament or none of them can be passed on? Or can individual bills be voted to be passed on?

  • Richard Willmer

    I don’t think we should take any chances: anything could happen. Ugandan politics is a very complex business.

    Still nothing in the UG press. Can’t understand that, if it is the case that the renewed activity on the Bill is meant to divert the attention of Ugandans from the real problems they currently face.

  • Maazi NCO

    Maazi – I had not heard this before and so I made sure I understood her correctly. If she is wrong, then the AHB is probably done.

    I “strongly doubt” that your prognosis for the bill is ENTIRELY correct, but then there is always a “one-in-a-thousand chances” that I could be wrong. Anyways, tomorrow is gonna be a long day. I hope you are ready to report our internal affairs in real time from the United States (without the benefit of a broadcasting satellite or better still— an CIA or NSA-owned spy satellite). 😀

  • Richard Willmer

    Uganda’s ‘internal affairs’ aren’t looking too good at the moment. My UG friends in London seem very embarrassed and/or worried at the moment, and I feel for them.

    Passing the Bahitlerite laws will only make things worse.

  • Maazi NCO

    Uganda’s ‘internal affairs’ aren’t looking too good at the moment. My UG friends in London seem very embarrassed and/or worried at the moment, and I feel for them.

    Perhaps from your base in London, it doesn’t look good. But from here in Kampala it looks real good. Your Ugandan friends— (unless they are sex deviants) —should be proud of the thoroughly revised Bahati Bill that we have successfully championed. It contains none of the extreme provisions of the original 2009 version. HOPEFULLY, everything will go right in the friday parliamentary session. HOPEFULLY there would be no hitches.

  • Richard Willmer
  • Richard Willmer

    As for the Bill: well, whatever happens there’ll probably be trouble from some quarter or other. It’s just a pity that the whole thing has got so far up the ‘blind alley’.

    It’s not too late to drop the whole thing, you know. Noone (except a few homophobic nutters) would really notice (especially since the UG press has been pretty much silent on the recent farce). They have much more important things to worry about just now (and probably for some time to come).

  • Maazi NCO

    Is these your ideas of ‘real good’?





    Stop mixing up civil and gay issues. Civil unrest in Uganda is none of your business. I will not discuss this matter with you or any bloody foreigner !! I will only discuss it with fellow Ugandans. Keep your nose out of it !!!

    You’re just being a sick, homophobic joker now, dear!

    You think that I care about words like “homophobia” which you chaps in the West invented to legitimize a disgraceful and inhuman behaviour. You can call me names, but in Uganda we are in-charge. This is not the UK. Over here and in most of Africa, buzz words such “homophobia”, “transphobia”, “(gay) marriage equality” and “sexual minorities” are meaningless.

  • Richard Willmer

    Temper, temper! (You enjoy throwing words like ‘gayism’ around, after all!)

    And, yes, I accept that, in the end, it’s your country – and if you want to make it worse, that’s your problem. However, as I have said, there is the issue of the international effects of the Bahitler Bill passing, and, if it were to pass, regrettable steps may have to be taken by way of addressing those.

  • Richard Willmer

    Just picking on one more of your points above, ‘Maazi’: you’ve talked about the internal affairs of the UK in the past, and I absolutely respect your right do so.