Rebecca Kadaga meets the Pope
Uganda’s dreaded Anti-Homosexuality Bill will not be passed this year, but there is little clarity on its fate or its support from government.
In November, Uganda’s Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, promised to see the bill, widely condemned around the globe, passed before Christmas.
However, parliament has now adjourned for the year without debating the bill.
It is likely to be considered in January when legislators resume their business.
It is still unclear if the version of the bill that is expected to be voted on will include the death penalty clause as originally proposed.
Even without this clause, the bill will further criminalise homosexuality, which is already illegal in Uganda.
Kadaga was out of the country last week, ironically leading a Ugandan delegation to the World Parliamentary Congress on Human Rights in Italy.
While visiting the Vatican, Kadaga was, appalingly, granted a personal audience with Pope Benedict XVI, during which she received his blessing.
Questions have been asked about the Pontiff seeing it fit to bless a woman who is supporting legislation that would imprison and possibly execute gay people.
Meanwhile, President Yoweri Museveni has suggested that he does not support imposing the death penalty against gay people.
“I have been telling these people (pro gay activists) that nobody will kill or prosecute them for being homosexual, but there should be no promotion of homosexuality,” Museveni was quoted as saying on Sunday at the installation of new Archbishop of Church of Uganda, Most. Rev. Stanley Ntagali, at the St. Paul’s Cathedral, in Kampala.
“The problem is promoting, you hear people holding conferences to promote homosexuality as if it’s a good thing,” the President said, reported New Vision.
Uganda’s Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi, also appeared to distance himself from the bill.
In a speech broadcast by Ugandan television, Mbabazi said: “It (homosexuality) is unlawful already. So to the extent that it is unlawful, and the attempt in this bill to repeat what is already unlawful, is not something we’ll support, supporting what is already in the bill. Why? Why won’t we support it? Because it’s already covered.
“But there are certain aspects which may be new, like promotion of homosexuality, things like that. Those are things, when we come to debate…We set up a committee which has made a report, we’ll go through this,” he said.
The bill was first introduced in October 2009 as a private member’s bill by MP David Bahati.
In addition to further criminalising homosexuality, anyone who “aids, abets [or] counsels” any gay person and anyone who rents a home or a room to a gay person would also be sentenced to seven years in jail under the proposed law.