A heated debate preceded the passing of the controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill this afternoon with Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi trying in vain to defer the discussion.
The bill, first tabled in Parliament in 2009 by Ndorwa West MP David Bahati, was passed after years of acrimonious debate and opposition from mainly human rights activists and the donor community.
The supporters of the bill see it as a comprehensive piece of legislation to protect the traditional family by prohibiting any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex. It proposes life imprisonment for offenders.
Just a day after passing the Anti-Pornography bill 2011, Parliament this morning started debating the anti-homosexuality bill. Prime Minister Mbabazi’s efforts to stop the House from debating the bill were futile. He argued that he was not aware that the bill was to be tabled today and that by Thursday it was not on the order paper.
Mbabazi entered the House in the middle of the debate. He rose on a point of procedure saying that government was not aware that the bill was to be debated today hence warning that it was an important bill which needed to be passed with a lot of care.
The Prime Minister noted that the bill should pass when the House has quorum and that government was still carrying out consultations about the bill. He requested that the debate rests as the government side continues with consultations, a request the MPs in the House rejected.
Gulu Woman MP Betty Aol noted that government had enough time to consult about the bill and that the Prime Minister was not supposed to stop the House from debating. She noted that the bill was important for the Country and that it should be passed.
Katerera County MP Katoto Hatwibu attacked Mbabazi on the floor saying that the bill must pass and that Ugandans were being sodomised yet Mbabazi’s children are protected by body guards.
He noted that the House passed several bills this week when the Prime Minister was around and never stopped them, asking what his worry was on this particular bill. He encouraged the Speaker to continue with the debate and pass the bill.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga noted that government had enough time to consult about the bill and that they could not stop the debate. She said that the Executive can object to the bill later after the House has passed it.