News release from Human Rights Watch:
(Kampala, May 11, 2011) – Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill was not discussed in parliament on May 11, 2011, as scheduled, but is due to be discussed on May 13 at 10 a.m. May 12 marks the inauguration of President Yoweri Museveni, and new parliamentarians will be sworn in next week.
The bill would introduce the death penalty as a sanction for some consensual sex between members of the same sex, the same penalty provided for terrorism and treason. It would be an offense for a person who is aware of any violations of the bill’s provisions not to report them to the relevant authorities within 24 hours.
The “order paper,” or parliamentary agenda for May 11, scheduled as the last day of debate in the current parliament, did not include the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The order paper indicated that other bills were to be discussed. Nonetheless, several Ugandan lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) activists submitted a written petition opposing the bill to Speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon. Edward Ssekandi. In their presence, Ssekandi spoke with Hon. David Bahati, the author of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, who asked that it be included in the day’s debate. Ssekandi issued instructions to include the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in the order paper, and a subsequent version included it as the last item on the day’s agenda.
During the four hours of parliamentary proceedings, starting around 2:30 p.m. and finishing at around 6:30 p.m., the parliament debated a variety of other current political issues.
Eventually, Parliament decided to proceed first with discussion of the pending Companies Bill, and the day’s proceedings finished due to lack of quorum. Only 35 members of parliament were present, far short of the 80 required for valid proceedings. As a result, the speaker set deliberations of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill to continue on May 13. As he exited the building, Hon. Odongo Otto of Aruu County told nearby LGBT activists that he “did not want homosexuals inside parliament.”
“Parliamentarians in Uganda should clearly reject this bill if it comes to a vote,” said Graeme Reid, LGBT director at Human Rights Watch. “The bill’s provisions threaten the fundamental freedoms of all Ugandans.”
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