Despite minor in-House opposition, Uganda’s Parliament swiftly passed legislation on Tuesday imposing harsher penalties for people engaging in same-sex activities.
“This House will not be afraid to limit any right to the extent that the House recognizes, protects, and safeguards this country’s sovereignty, morals, and culture,” Speaker Anita Among said after Parliament unanimously passed the Bill.
Anyone who engages in same-sex relationships or identifies as LGBTQ faces a 10-year prison sentence under the new legislation.
The new anti-gay law, which was previously struck down by a court after President Museveni signed it into law in 2014, was debated in front of a nearly full 11th parliament on March 21, with 389 lawmakers present in person and about 55 MPs watching proceedings via Zoom technology.
President Museveni branded gay people as “deviants” on March 16 but noted that Tuesday’s amendments to the anti-gay law would be subject to scientific findings, according to analysts.
“Does it come from nature or nurture?” We must provide answers to these questions. “We need a medical opinion on that,” he said in a one-of-a-kind address to Parliament.
“We took note of his speech in tongues sounding without conclusion,” said Mathias Mpuuga, Leader of the Opposition (LOP), on Tuesday, urging the government to respect Parliament’s adoption.
However, on March 21, Fox Odoi of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party led charges against the legislation’s passage.
“It contains unconstitutional provisions, reverses gains made in the fight against gender-based violence, and criminalises individuals rather than conduct that violates legal provisions,” he said during plenary.
The Bill is now awaiting President Museveni’s approval.