Uganda's Monitor provides post mortem on 8th Parliament

Uganda’s Daily Monitor provides some insight into the end of the Eighth Parliament and the unfinished business they left behind. According to this article, over 20 bills were not completed.

On the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, the Monitor reports:

The eighth Parliament officially closed business on Friday, leaving behind a number of high-profile Bills that had been expected to pass – among them the controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

The Bill has garnered widespread international condemnation, notably criticised by Western leaders and human rights activists who have called it ‘inhuman’.

A private initiative of Ndorwa West MP David Bahati, its original form introduced the death penalty for “serial offenders” or HIV-positive people engaging in same-sex acts, as well as imprisonment for those who do not report those suspected of being gay, among others.

Adhering to international pressure, President Museveni set up a commission to investigate the implications of passing the Bill and recommended that it be withdrawn.

But Parliament being independent of government, the Bill was retained. It has since been amended to have the death penalty removed.  As soon as the Bill was listed on the parliamentary order paper, pressure in the House was high as activists filled the gallery in anticipation.

But in the end, it was not debated – along with 21 others, including the HIV/AIDS Prevention & Control Bill, 2010 the Regional Governments Bill, 2009 and the long-awaited Marriage and Divorce Bill.

If the report from the Legal and Parliamentary Afffairs committee that I have is the final and official report, then it is not accurate to say that the death penalty was removed.

The article does give some insight into why the women MPs walked out of Parliament on Wednesday, leading to the loss of the quorum. This action may have kept the Anti-Homosexuality Bill from getting a vote.

Jane Alisemera, chairperson of the Uganda Women Parliamentary Association, accused Attorney General Khiddu Makubuya of “killing” the Marriage and Divorce Bill, which she says has been on the backburner for 45 years.

“During our interactions with him, he said he had no problem with the document,” Alisemera said. “When Speaker Ssekandi suggested that it be debated on Wednesday, he said he was not ready for it.”

Mr Makubuya informed Parliament last week that the Marriage and Divorce Bill would not be tabled in Parliament as government was still consulting on the matter, prompting women legislators to storm out of the House. If the Marriage and Divorce Bill is passed and becomes law, it would abolish forced marriage and allow women to divorce their husbands on the basis of cruelty, among others.

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  • paul canning

    The HIV/AIDS Prevention & Control Bill was also an incredibly dangerous piece of legislation, especially to women. This was pointed out to me this week and it is a pity it has had little to no attention.

  • Richard Willmer

    True, Paul. I have actually raised this very matter with …….. [name of UG politico witheld]

    I think the FCO is already aware of the dangers.