Govt defends need to legislate on homosexuality
Publish Date: Dec 21, 2009
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By Steven Candia

The Government has explained that the anti-homosexuality Bill was introduced by a private member, David Bahati, and not the Government.

Responding to criticism from countries and organisations that promote human rights and democracy, foreign affairs minister Sam Kutesa said it was the MP’s democratic right to introduce a Bill.

“To that extent, the Government cannot be seen to interfere with his rights as an MP,” he said in a statement over the weekend.

“It is inconsistent to promote gay rights and at the same time demand that the right of a Member of Parliament to legislate be interfered with.”

As to the content of the Bill, he said the Government was aware that the Penal Code already provides against homosexuality.

“It may, therefore, not be necessary to have another law to further criminalise it.”

He, however, added that there is a need to protect minors against homosexual relations “as we have already done with a law to protect minors against defilement in heterosexual relations”.

Kutesa further pointed out that the Government does not support the promotion of homosexuality just like it cannot promote prostitution.

“It is a fact that if there are any homosexuals in Uganda, they are a minority. The majority of Africans, and indeed Ugandans, abhor this practice. It is, therefore, not correct to allow this minority to provoke the majority by promoting homosexuality,” the statement read.

He called for calm and said the Government would review the Bill in keeping with the concerns of Uganda’s society.

The Bahati Bill wants to impose a life sentence on homosexuality and the death penalty on aggravated homosexuality.

Aggravated homosexuality is defined as sex with a minor or a disabled person, where the offender is HIV-positive, a parent or a person in authority over the victim, or where drugs are used to overpower the victim.

Under the proposed Bill, promotion of homosexuality attracts a prison sentence of up to seven years, while anybody failing to report the offence within 24 hours risks imprisonment for up to three years.

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