By Leonard Kamugisha Akida
Ugandan Attorney General (AG) Kiryowa Kiwanuka, has said that the the Anti-Gay Bill is redundant and therefore not needed in the country.
Appearing before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee on Saturday, the AG said that the Bill has multiple repetitions of offences in already existing legislation.
“I wish to bring your attention that some of the clauses in the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023 are similar to provisional in other enactments …where the law has adequately provided for an offence, it is right and proper to avoid duplication for purposes of easy implementation,” he said,
Section 39 of the Interpretation Act that bars punishment under more than one law for the same offence.
According to AG Kiryowa, the offence of homosexuality under clause two of the Bill is provided for under the Penal Code Act Cap 120, as natural offences while clause four on attempt to commit homosexuality is covered under Section 146 of Cap 120 under the Penal Code Act. Other duplications cited, include clause eight that penalises aiding and abetting homosexuality, clause nine on conspiracy to engage in homosexuality, Clause 11 on detention with intent to commit homosexuality.
He further noted that the offence of same-sex marriage created under Clause 13, is already covered by the Marriage Act that defines marriage to be between man and woman. Article 31 (2) of the Constitution also prohibits same-sex marriage.
On contrary, AG Kiryowa’s submission was outrightly rejected by the the Minister of State for Disability Affairs, Grace Hellen Asamo and the Minister of State for Ethics and Integrity, Rose Akello who said the new law is necessary expressing the need to ensure more punitive penalties on the LBTQ persons and anyone abetting homosexuality.
“Homosexuality is a physiological disorientation which does not easily get out of someone’s mind within a short time. There is, therefore, need to safeguard society from being affected by the reoccurrence of the homosexual practices by putting in place reasonable deterrent penalties,” minister Asamo said calling for more punitive measures.
When asked about the laws on the promotion of homosexuality, a key proponent of the Bill in the existing laws, the AG remained silent.
Further before the committee was the Deputy Directorate of Public Prosecutions, James Odumbi Owere from the Office of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) established with a mandate to institute criminal proceedings against any person or authority who said that there is no need for a new law.
Odumbi proposed an amendment of the Penal Code Act to plug said loopholes.
“This doesn’t justify a completely new law. This can be achieved by simply amending the penal provision,” Odumbi said.
Fox Odoi, the West Budama North MP told the committee that the problem is lack of implementation and not absence of the law.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023 was first tabled on the floor of parliament for the first reading by the Bugiri municipality MP, Hon. Asuman Basalirwa and later referred to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs which is handling the hearing processes.
According to Basalirwa, the new Bill will rectify inadequacies in the Penal Code Act that provides for unnatural sex, but “lacks provisions on procurement, promoting, disseminating literature and other ponographic materials concerning the offences of homosexuality
Unnatural offences under the Penal Code Act are punishable by life imprisonment while the new Bill proposes a 10-year sentence for the offence of homosexuality.