Kasese: Minister Declares Controversial Minority Bill Null and Void

The HIV/TB services accessibility bill fronted by Human Rights Awareness Promotion Forum-HRAPF, an NGO involved in the promotion of rights for key populations in Kasese municipality is illegal, the state minister for local government Victoria Busiinge Rusoke has declared.

She told an extraordinary council sitting of both Kasese municipality and district councilors that the controversial bill violates the national constitution, saying its architectures are committing treason under the national laws.   

The proposed law is on an engagement between Human Rights Awareness Promotion Forum-HRAPF and Kasese municipal council early last year. However, the Kasese Municipal Social Services secretary recommended the removal of provisions for homosexuals and transgender from the proposed bill because they conflict with the national constitution.  

The councilors say that without their knowledge the bill was tabled for a second reading. They accused the speaker, Ukash Swaibu Musenene of disregarding the council’s position. On, Wednesday, the speaker of parliament Thomas Tayebwa told parliament that he had received news that the Kasese municipal council made attempts to pass a by-law that recognizes homosexuals and transgender people as minorities and since then the matter has attracted national importance. 

On Friday, the local government minister directed that the bill should never be discussed again in the council since some of its clauses were against the social-cultural norms and the national constitution. She faulted the council for failing to do a background check of the NGO to understand her interest since health services have been inclusive to all constitutionally recognized social groups.

Rusoke also accused a section of political leaders who could have supported the bill of being inconsiderate to the young generation that is at risk of being sexually exploited by wrong elements. She noted that her ministry will work with the Ministry of International Affairs to investigate the operations of HRAPF and subsequently take action.

The minister also noted that the ministry is planning to do induction for councilors to help them grasp key national laws in order to have guided council business. 

The state minister of guidance, Godfrey Kabyanga asked the Kasese municipality council executive to acknowledge the mistake of attempt enact a law that contravenes the social norms and the national constitution and offer an apology to the country.

A section of councilors and other top district leaders condemned members who proposed the bill and asked the municipal executive council to apologize to the community of Kasese and the entire nation for their failure to preserve social and cultural values. 

The Kasese municipal deputy town clerk, Kayiri Kambasu noted that during the stakeholders’ consultative and legislation process, they discovered that the contents and citations of the HIV/TB services accessibility bill provided grounds for transgender and homosexual practices and subsequently rejected the bill. He subsequently asked for forgiveness from members who could have been offended by such a proposal.

Earlier the town council speaker had said that the discussion generated was only a political witch hunt against his office. 

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