Despite assurances made yesterday by Uganda’s Information Minister Karooro Okurut, the dreaded Anti Homosexuality Bill 2009 that seeks the death penalty for gays is back on parliament’s agenda.
BTM confirmed the bad news when it perused a copy of Uganda parliament’s order paper for today (Tuesday February 07, 2012) which states clearly that the Ndorwa County MP David Bahati is due to re-table his bill in the current Parliament after it lapsed with the last parliament before the 2011 general election.
Okurut, the government’s official spokeswoman, told Behind the Mask in Kampala on Monday that the government was “not interested” in the bill and that Cabinet had made its stand on the bill clearly last year by rejecting it.
However , parliamentary spokeswoman, Helen Kaweesa had on Monday refused to speculate on what bills would be re-tabled, after news website, UGPulse.com, had reported earlier on Monday that Parliament was reconsidering re-tabling the bill.
In a report on the tension caused by the mixed messages about the bill yesterday Behind the Mask had said that Ugandan gay rights activists were tense regarding the bill.
On Tuesday, a group of gay rights activists received accreditation to the Parliamentary gallery to follow proceedings of the Bahati Bill’s first reading. The bill is expected to be referred to a Parliamentary Committee after its first reading today.
In October last year, a Ugandan army officer successfully moved a motion in Parliament to resurrect all bills that had been shelved in the previous Parliament, including the Bahati Bill, into the agenda of the current ninth Parliament.
The officer, Sarah Mpabwa, an army representative in Parliament, said all bills and reports that were shelved in Uganda’s eighth Parliament should be saved and re-tabled for discussion.
Meanwhile, the author of the proposed law, David Bahati claims that the Ugandan government cannot influence his bill because it is a private members bill and as such, property of parliament and not Cabinet.