Couples of different religious denominations have been advised to get married at the Registrar of Marriages if they do not want to compromise their faith.
Rev. Canon Steven Gelenga of All Saints Cathedral Nakasero says every faith has its norms and ethics, adding that if a marriage is to be carried out under divine law, then one of the people has to convert.
Currently being debated before Parliament is the Marriage and Divorce Bill 2009 which serves the Christians while the Muslim Personal Law Bill 2008 is yet to be tabled for debate.
Some of the controversial clauses in the Marriage and Divorce Bill include sharing of property, cohabitation and conjugal rights.
Rev. Canon Gelenga argues that if two people have decided to get married, they have to sort out their religious differences and if they do not agree amicably, it is advisable not to proceed. This is because at the end of the day, it is the children who are left in a dilemma not knowing whether to go to the Mosque or Church.
Canon Gelenga adds that if the couple from different religions decides to get married but disagreements over religion persist, then their only choice is with the Registrar of Marriages.
Haji Nsereko Mutumba, spokesperson of the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council, also agrees with Canon Gelenga, cautioning couples of divergent religious views that they are lying to themselves and the marriage may not last.
He dismissed the Marriage and Divorce Bill as elitist and added that he is yet to see serious and happily married women agitating for it.
Canon Gelenga also notes that the debate before Parliament has also focused on sharing of property which is corrupting the intention of marriage. Majority of the male legislators are opposed to the Bill specifically because they believe it gives power and means to women to take their property after the marriage is dissolved.
Gelenga states that in the order of service for marriage, it is stated that “all that I am, I give to you and all that I have I share with you” among others which means that there is sharing. He adds that the competence of the court to dissolve religious marriages is questionable quoting the Bible in Mark 10:9 that “Let no one puts asunder that which God has put together.”
The religious leaders agree that the Bill has not taken into consideration of the grassroots citizens of Ugandans right from the family level. They argue that consultations on the Bill should have started from the family, clan, Sub County, to the district for it to be exhausted before Parliament debates it.