President Museveni Returns Anti-Homosexuality Bill

President Yoweri Museveni has returned to parliament the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023 for reconsideration.

In a letter dated 25 April addressed to Speaker Anita Among, which was read to Members of Parliament during a plenary sitting on Wednesday by the Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa, the President wants clarity on the distinction between a homosexual and acts of homosexuality.

He noted that it is important to recognize that the suspicion, allegation, or belief of some individuals being homosexuals has been with the Ugandan society for some time amid doubts about whether the sexuality of these individuals is deviant conduct or otherwise.

According to the president, the proposed law should be clear so that what is thought to be criminalized is not the state of one having a deviant inclination but rather the actions of one acting on that deviance or promoting the same.

Museveni advised that sections 2 and 3 of the bill be reviewed, noting that the person who is believed, alleged, or suspected of being a homosexual who has not committed a sexual act with another person of the same sex does not commit an offence under those sections.

Equally, the president pointed out that clause 9(1) is unnecessary and should be deleted from the bill as it is already provided for in clause 9(2) which provides for the actual knowledge of the person who is responsible for premises rented by a homosexual.

While clause 14 of the bill imposes a duty on one to report suspected acts of homosexuality, Museveni noted that clause 15 makes it an offence for a person to make false sexual allegations – a contradiction that could fuel conflict in society.

Furthermore, the president proposed that the bill should include a provision that facilitates those who have previously been involved in acts of homosexuality to present themselves to the relevant authorities for purposes of seeking help in cases where their previous involvement in acts of homosexuality was not of an aggravated kind should not be punished.

Subsequently, Tayebwa referred the bill which was introduced by Bugiri Municipality MP Asuman Basalirwa on March 9 to the legal and parliamentary affairs committee for reconsideration within seven days. Parliament unanimously passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill on 21 March 2023.

The bill outlined severe punitive measures against anyone who engages in acts of homosexuality, including a 20-year jail sentence, and a maximum death penalty for the vice.

The bill also prohibits acts that expose children to homosexuality by imposing a 10-year prison sentence on a person found to recruit a child into the vice. It also seeks to penalize an owner, occupier, or manager of premises who knowingly allows the premises to be used for acts of homosexuality with a 10-year prison sentence upon conviction.

Equally, a person who contracts a marriage with a person of the same sex presides over a same-sex marriage ceremony, or knowingly participates in the preparation of such a marriage is liable on conviction, to a 10-year prison sentence. Activists have opposed the bill arguing that it is regressive and infringes on human rights.

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