By Henry Sekanjako and Moses Walubiri
President Yoweri Museveni has advised the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Parliamentary caucus not to rush the re-enactment of an anti-homosexuality law after its nullification by the Constitutional Court due to lack of quorum.
On August 1, 2014, the Constitutional Court nullified the anti-homosexuality law where a panel of five judges including the acting deputy chief justice Steven Kavuma agreed with the petitioners that the law was passed without quorum. According to the parliamentary rules of procedure, quorum is a third of the voting members of Parliament (about 128 MPs).
Addressing the NRM Parliamentary Caucus at State House Entebbe yesterday, President Museveni told MPs that the law was not a priority for the country’s development even as there was need to protect the family institution.
“A country which has no vision punishes a divided house. We need to work together through consensus and use of collective methods,” a source quoted Museveni as saying.
According to the source, who preferred anonymity, the President asked the MPs to debate the law when it is re-tabled in Parliament without any emotional feelings, for the betterment of the country and international relations.
“This is now an issue of Semusota guli muntamu (a snake which has entered into a cooking pot). If we try to kill the snake, we may break the pot, if we don’t we won’t” the President reportedly told the caucus, citing a Luganda saying used to describe a delicate situation that poses a serious dilemma.
Another source said the president had set up a 10-member committee chaired by the Vice-President Edward Kiwanuka Sekandi to study the petition, which challenged the law.
Sekandi had earlier excited MPs when he told the President that the Bill should be re-tabled in Parliament.
Other committee members include David Bahati, Chris Baryomunsi, Steven Tashobya, Jim Muhwezi, and Ruth Nankabirwa
“The committee has been tasked to report back to the caucus within a period of one month. The court only focused on quorum, but there are other grounds, which were not considered,” said the source.
The source noted that the President said some of his advice on the law had been ignored, adding that there was need to protect the children against acts of homosexuality, promotion and recruitment of the young ones into practicing the vice.
Museveni’s statements came few hours after Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga and a number of MPs vowed to pass the Bill, when re-introduced in Parliament.
Homosexuality is still criminal under the Ugandan national Constitution and the Penal Code Act. But the annulled law had provided for life imprisonment for “aggravated homosexuality” and banned the “promotion of homosexuality”.
At the time of signing the Bill, Museveni said: “Homosexuals are nurtured, but not natured. No study has shown that one can be a homosexual by nature. Since nurture is the cause, that is why I have agreed to sign the Bill into law.”
Museveni had also warned critics of the law, including the US not to push Uganda on the matter. “I would like to discourage the US government from taking the line that passing this law will “complicate our valued relationship” with the US, as President Obama said.
The Act had spawned a chill in Uganda’s relationship with a number of western countries.
In June, the US imposed travel restrictions on Ugandan officials and cut funding to a number of programmes it is running with the Ugandan authorities. Several European nations — including Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden — had earlier cut aid.
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