The NRM Parliamentary Caucus has advised President Museveni to send back the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023 to Parliament for improvements.
The decision was made after meeting the President at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds in Kampala on Thursday, 20 April 2023.
According to the resolution seen by the Kampala Report, the NRM MPs, who also comprise some Independents, said after careful consideration, they realised that the Bill needs to be reviewed.
“WHEREAS WE the Parliamentary Caucus of the National Resistance Movement and Independent Members of Parliament have today 20th April 2023 met at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds in the presence of H.E. the President and the National Chairperson of the NRM; WHEREAS the Parliament of Uganda on 21., March 2023 did pass a Private Members Bill titled Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023,” the resolution reads in part.
“Whereas under the provisions of the Constitution of Uganda Bills passed by Parliament are assented to (or otherwise) by the President of the Republic of Uganda before they become law,” it adds.
“And whereas the aforementioned meeting of the NRM Parliamentary Caucus and Independent Members of Parliament working with the NRM has received a Keynote Address on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023 delivered by H.E. the President; HAVING exhaustively examined all related issues and reviewed previous discussions on the subject; Hereby resolve as follows: To advise H.E. the President to send back the Bill to Parliament, with proposals for its improvement,” the resolution adds.
During the meeting, the President told the members that he had no objections to the punishments for homosexuals in the Bill but on the issue of rehabilitation of the persons who have in the past been engaged in homosexuality but would like to live normal lives again.
It was then agreed that the bill goes back to parliament for the issues of rehabilitation to be looked at before he can sign it into law
This comes a day after it was revealed that the Deputy Attorney General, Jackson Karugaba Kafuuzi wrote to the President, ‘disassociating’ the Attorney General’s office from the Bill and advised the President not to assent to it.
Solomon Silwany, the Bukooli County Central MP, told the House during a plenary sitting on Wednesday that he was in possession of a leaked letter written by Kafuuzi to the President, advising him not to assent to the Bill that has been transmitted to him by the Clerk to Parliament.
Silwany sought the advice of the Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa if it was procedurally right for Kafuuzi to act contrary to the position of the House that unanimously passed the Bill, and yet he never raised any objections at the time.
Kiryowa Kiwanuka, the Attorney General, without divulging the content of the letter, admitted that his deputy wrote the letter and urged the House not to interfere with the legislative process.
The revelation will be welcomed by LGBT activists around the world who had condemned the passing of the Bill as an affront to human rights.
This is not the first time President Museveni is refusing to sign a bill criminalising gay rights.
In 2014, President Museveni refused to approve a controversial bill to toughen punishments for homosexuals.
He instead wrote to the parliamentary speaker criticising her for passing it in December without a quorum. Mr Museveni said the bill was forced through despite his advice to shelve it until the government had studied it in depth
On 21 Tuesday, March 2023, Parliament unanimously passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill which outlined severe punitive measures against anyone who engages in acts of homosexuality, including a 20-year jail sentence, and a maximum death penalty for anyone engaging in aggravated homosexuality.
The Private Member’s Bill was introduced by Bugiri Municipality Member of Parliament, Asuman Basalirwa on 9 March 2023. It also prohibits acts that expose children to homosexuality by imposing a 10-year prison sentence on a person found to recruit a child into the vice.
Further, the Bill seeks to penalize an owner, occupier, or manager of premises who knowingly allows the premises to be used for acts of homosexuality with a 10-year prison sentence upon conviction.
Also, a person who contracts a marriage with a person of the same sex presides over a same-sex marriage ceremony, or knowingly participates in the preparation of such a marriage is liable on conviction, to a 10-year prison sentence.
Notably, several activists opposed the Bill arguing that the law is regressive and does not meet human rights standards.