Uganda’s President Museveni has finally assented to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023 to make it law.
‘’His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Uganda, General Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, has executed his constitutional mandate as prescribed by Article 91 (3) (a) of the Constitution. He has assented to the Anti-Homosexuality Act’’, tweeted the Speaker of Uganda’s Parliament Anet Annita Among.
Rt.Hon.Among added that; ‘’I thank His Excellency, the president, for his steadfast action in the interest of Uganda. With a lot of humility, I thank my colleagues the Members of Parliament for withstanding all the pressure from bullies and doomsday conspiracy theorists in the interest of our country. By their action, we have lived by our motto: For God and our Country.On behalf of the Parliament of Uganda, I thank the people of Uganda for the prayers and encouragement while we executed our mandate in line with Articles 1 and 79 of the Constitution. We shall always stand for and promote the interest of the people of Uganda. I now encourage the duty bearers under the law to execute the mandate bestowed upon them in the Anti-Homosexuality Act. The people of Uganda have spoken, and it is your duty to now enforce the law in a fair, steadfast, and firm manner. As the Parliament of Uganda, we have answered the cries of our people. We have legislated to protect the sanctity of family as per Article 31 of the Constitution of Uganda. We have stood strong to defend our culture and aspirations of our people as per objectives 19 & 24 of national objectives and directive principles of state policy’’.
Parliament recently passed the bill after President Yoweri Museveni asked that certain provisions from the original legislation be toned down.
The bill retained punishments including the death penalty for certain same-sex acts and a 20-year sentence for “promoting” homosexuality, which activists say could criminalize any advocacy for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer citizens.
A measure that obliged people to report homosexual activity was amended to only require reporting when a child is involved. Failure to do so is subject to five years in jail or a fine of 10 million Ugandan shillings (£2,150).
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Anyone who “knowingly allow’’ their premises to be used for acts of homosexuality” faces seven years in jail.
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Museveni returned the bill to parliament last month, asking lawmakers to remove the duty to report and to introduce a provision to facilitate the “rehabilitation” of gay people. No such provision has been included in the amended bill.
Museveni, a vocal opponent of LGBTQ+ rights, applauded lawmakers for having “rejected the pressure from the imperialists”.
371 MPs voted for the amended bill. One MP from the ruling party, Fox Odoi-Oywelowo, voted against, saying it contravened the constitution. The presence of 170 MPs was required to vote on a bill.
Museveni had 30 days to either sign the legislation into law, return it to parliament for another revision, or veto it and inform the parliamentary speaker. The bill would, however, pass into law without the president’s assent if he returns it to parliament for a second time.
Anita Among, the speaker of parliament, said: “Today, parliament has gone again into the history books of Uganda, Africa and the world, [because it] clearly brought up the issue of homosexuality, the moral question, the future of our children, and protecting families.”
She asked MPs to “remain steadfast” in their commitments, adding that “no amount of intimidation will make us retract from what we have done. Let’s stand firm.”
An earlier anti-gay bill in 2014 also prompted widespread international criticism and was later nullified by Uganda’s constitutional court on procedural grounds.