Speaker Rebecca Kadaga
Uganda’s Speaker of Parliament has vowed to see that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill has its day in parliament and has slated Canada for lobbying against it, reported the Daily Monitor.
The issue of LGBT rights in Uganda led to something of a diplomatic tiff between Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and her host, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, during her recent visit to Canada.
She was attending the 127th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly in Quebec when Baird criticised Uganda’s oppressive laws and policies against the gay and lesbian community.
He specifically mentioned the January 2011 murder of activist David Kato and the pending Anti-Homosexuality Bill, introduced into parliament as a private member’s bill by MP David Bahati.
Kadaga responded by stating that “as a Speaker of Parliament, it is my responsibility to protect the rights of Members of Parliament; hence I cannot deny them the right to move private members’ Bills. The debate on homosexuality is not a settled matter”.
She said that the Ugandan courts had concluded that Kato’s death was not due to his activism but was a crime of passion and the perpetrator had been found guilty and jailed.
Kadaga noted that the West was far from united on the issue of LGBT rights.
“To-date 39 states in the USA prohibit same-sex marriages. In the Anglican Church the matter is not yet settled. Indeed in the Anglican Church of the USA, some provinces pay allegiance to the Church of Uganda because they do not believe in homosexuality,” she said.
Kadaga also asserted that her country’s sovereignty was at issue: “If homosexuality is a value for the people of Canada they should not seek to force Uganda to embrace it. We are not a colony or a protectorate of Canada.”
According to Box Turtle Bulletin, she received a hero’s welcome when she returned home, with a rally at Entebbe airport organised by religious leaders, including Anti-Homosexuality Bill author David Bahati.
Kadaga reportedly told the crowd and the press at the rally that she would instruct the chair of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee “to quickly bring the report on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill” to the House floor for a vote.
Even without the death penalty clause, which may be dropped, the proposed bill will further criminalise homosexuality which is already illegal in Uganda. In addition, anyone who “aids, abets [or] counsels” any gay person and anyone who rents a home or room to a gay person could also be sentenced to seven years in jail.