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By Melanie Nathan, April 20, 2023

Uganda’s Attorney General has told parliament to amend several provisions in the Anti-Homosexuality Bill before President Yoweri Museveni will sign it. At the same time Museveni has said he would like Parliament to explore the aspect of so called “rehabilitation”.

Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill, otherwise known as THE KILL THE GAYS BILL, which passed Parliament on 21 March, 2023, has left the desk of President Museveni, who, pressured by International outcry, did not provide his assent within the requisite thirty day period. Instead the legislation has been sent by Attorney General Kafuuzi Jackson Karugaba back to Parliament to be reworked through considering several concerns about the Bill.

Predictably the major concern would be the mandatory death penalty, for so called "aggravated homosexuality".

Even though the legislation attempts to define “aggravated homosexuality” for the purposes of the mandatory death penalty, it is fraught with problems. When it is hard to define a crime with clarity - imagine legislating a mandatory death penalty.

There is also clear conflict with current Ugandan law that requires discretion. Clearly the AG, probably eager to include the death penalty as evidenced during the hearings in Parliament, is less concerned about absolving gays from death and more concerned about the law passing the inevitable tests of constitutionality when advocate bring it before the Constitutional Court.

The Bill once it passes Parliament in amended form can go back to Museveni for assent. If Museveni refuses to assent it can go back to parliament, again, which can still ensure it is made law, merely by a two-third majority vote, averting the need for assent by the President, because it is a private member bill.

AG Karugaba’s concern is based on current Ugandan law. He has said that Ugandan case law limits the imposition of the death penalty to very specific and extreme crimes. In addition, a mandatory death sentence would be unconstitutional because it violates “the principle of separation of powers as it does not give the judiciary an opportunity to exercise its discretion to determine an appropriate sentence”.

Karugaba wrote that two other provisions in the bills are also of concern:

  • The first makes it an offense for “a person who keeps” a house, room, set of rooms or place of any kind to allow or facilitate the commission of the offense of homosexuality on the premises.

  • The second is a provision compelling a person who knows or has “reasonable suspicion” that another person has committed or intends to commit the offense of homosexuality to report the matter to the police.

Karugaba argued that these provisions are too broad and vague as they do not define terms such as “a person who keeps” and “unreasonable suspicion”.

“In conclusion,” the AG wrote, “the above provisions need to be revisited before the bill is assented to by His Excellency the President to avoid the bill being challenged in court on grounds of unconstitutionality upon coming into force.”

Museveni, amidst his own calls for the eradication of homosexuality from Africa, has indicated he will sign the BILL - and so revision is ultimately a next step.

At the same time I believe Museveni wants to be seen to be placating the International community while insuring his sovereignty, the Bill’s constitutionality, and his nurturing of the Ugandan populace where well over 90% support the Kill the Gays Bill. Here is where Museveni balances a seemingly prudent and responsible legislative trajectory with his unhinged rhetoric!

The Bill includes ten years, 20 years, life in prison, as well as the death penalty at this time.

Scientists and academics this week signed an open letter urging Museveni to veto the bill, which has received widespread condemnation from around the world, including from the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States’ Secretary of State.

I have noticed some inaccuracies in the reporting of mainstream media such as CNN, Al Jazeera and Reuters. As far as we know the identifying clause has been taken out of the legislation already. In other words one cannot go to jail for ten years simply for identifying as LGBTQI+. However, that said, even if such is out the final legislation, the way things work in Uganda, even without this heightened legislation, authorities act “as if” it is there.

As a country conditions expert testifying in the U.S. and global Courts for LGBTQI+ asylum seekers from Uganda, even without heightened legislation, even with confusion around actual law, or even without actual charges against people, the law is used as tool to license violence, so called mob justice, and sets the stage for extortion and blackmail by state and non state actors alike.

At this time the passage by Parliament has resulted in an uptick in violence against LGBTQI+ Ugandans to include hunts for gays and new arrests under current law.

While the world is aghast at the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act and the harm it is causing, in flagrant disregard of the most basic of human rights, one cannot ignore the ongoing role played by America Evangelicals (see below) who under the pretext of “saving Uganda and Africa from the export of homosexuality” are de facto the agents for further colonizing through the export of homophobia, determined to prop up the original colonizing draconian Penal Codes.

To HELP safe shelter those fleeing the current gay hunts and arrests, please DONATE HERE.

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