Reports say that the Ugandan Cabinet has thrown out the dreaded Anti-Homosexuality Bill but that Parliament could still try to push it through.
Uganda’s Daily Monitor claimed on Monday that the Cabinet decision was taken on the advice of Adolf Mwesige, the ruling party lawyer. He apparently convinced ministers that the bill “was unnecessary since government has a number of laws in place criminalising homosexual activities”.
A source told the newspaper: “We agreed that government should search the law archives and get some of the laws, enforce them rather than having another new piece of legislation. He [Mwesige] said the Bill is overtaken by events and that donors and other sections of the public were not comfortable.”
Despite this, the bill’s author, MP David Bahati, has pledged to see the legislation adopted and said that its fate is now in the hands of Parliament, not the Cabinet.
The bill failed to be debated in the previous parliamentary session and was expected to be dealt with in the current session.
According to blogger Warren Throckmorton, Parliamentary Spokesperson Helen Kawesa confirmed that the bill “is in the Parliament now. It’s Parliament’s property”.
She said that bill must be voted on and that “if the Cabinet has issues with it, they will be brought in to the floor of the House”.
At this point no date has been set for a debate and it is unclear if the Cabinet’s apparent lack of support will affect a vote or if the bill could be vetoed by President Yoweri Museveni if passed.
Male and female homosexuality are already illegal in Uganda, with penalties including life imprisonment.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill allows for the death penalty in cases of “aggravated homosexuality” and includes criminal penalties for anyone who fails to turn over gay people to the police or who “promotes” homosexuality.