Anita Among, the Speaker of Parliament, revealed on Thursday that she had received numerous threats in the run-up to the House’s passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023.
The Bill was passed by Parliament on Tuesday, introducing harsh penalties such as death for aggravated homosexuality and imprisonment for up to 20 years for acts of homosexuality, promoting homosexuality, child grooming, and promoting homosexuality.
Ms Among revealed during the special service prayers in memory of her predecessor, the late Jacob Oulanyah, at Parliament on Thursday morning that she was forced to turn off her phones hours before presiding over the plenary session that passed the contentious Bill, which has elicited mixed reactions from stakeholders.
“I have a lot of threats for your information.” I was terrified. We will be without AIDS drugs, and aid will be cut off. I said, “So what if tourism, trade, and export are cut?” Bukedea Woman MP stated.
“I got a lot of calls, so I had to turn off my phones,” she added. Let me finish this session, I said. I’d like to thank the legal minds in the House, such as Hon [Medard] Ssegona; you did an excellent job. I want to assure Ugandans and MPs that once we are united, no one can separate us.”
She insisted, however, that such threats would not deter Parliament from protecting Ugandans’ morals.
“Whatever we did, the legislation on anti-homosexuality that we passed essentially demonstrated to the public that we are a people-centred Parliament.” We do it for the majority of the people; we are not working for a select few,” Ms Among added before repeating her pledge:
“We will work for the people.” We will work for the benefit of humanity. We are servants of the people, and we are here to serve the people of Uganda wherever they may be…”
Speaker Among was praised by a large number of lawmakers for being courageous in Bill’s processing.
While legislators and supporters celebrated Bill’s passage, which now awaits President Museveni’s signature, messages of condemnation began to pour in from the global community, including key partners such as the United Nations and the United States, describing the law as discriminatory and regressive.
Mr Volker Turk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, asked Mr Museveni not to sign the Bill in a statement.
“The passage of this discriminatory Bill, which is likely to be among the worst of its kind in the world,” he said in a statement. If signed into law by the President, it will make Ugandan lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people criminals simply for existing, for being who they are.
It could allow for the systematic violation of nearly all of their human rights and incite people against one another,” he said.
Mr Anthony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, expressed similar sentiments.
“The Ugandan Parliament’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, passed yesterday, would undermine fundamental human rights of all Ugandans and could reverse gains in the HIV/AIDS fight.” “We strongly urge the Ugandan government to reconsider the implementation of this legislation,” Mr Blinken wrote on Twitter.
These reactions mirror those seen in the aftermath of the passage of a similar law in 2014, when donors, including the US government, sanctioned Uganda for its “anti-universal human rights” legislation.
Individuals were barred from entering the United States, including now-State Minister for Trade David Bahati, who sponsored the Bill. The sanctions also had an impact on funding for health and security exercises, which rely heavily on donations.
Other African countries that prohibit homosexuality include Ghana, Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Zambia, among others