Uganda: Parliament Committee Backs Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Published: May 13, 2011

(Kampala) – The Ugandan parliament’s Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee has regrettably recommended passage of the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill, including retaining the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality," Human Rights Watch said today. The committee’s report, as seen by Human Rights Watch, recommends amendments deleting some provisions but adding criminal penalties for "conduct[ing] a marriage ceremony between persons of the same sex."
 
The committee’s report is likely to be presented to parliament on May 13, 2011, as part of a debate before the bill could be up for a vote. Such reports are required under parliamentary procedure. The committee said that it consulted with several key stakeholders in generating its recommendations, including civil society, government agencies, including the Justice Ministry, Uganda Law Reform Commission, prisons, and the Uganda Human Rights Commission. It is not clear how many committee members participated in drafting the report. At consultations attended by Human Rights Watch only three of the committee’s 20 members were present."It should be scrapped. The committee’s recommendations fall wholly short of making this a bill worth parliament’s time," said Graeme Reid, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Program at Human Rights Watch. "Even if these suggestions are taken on board, the bill will remain discriminatory, a profound threat to Uganda’s LGBT community and put Uganda at odds with its fundamental human rights obligations."
 
The committee proposes amendments to the October 2009 draft bill. Despite the suggestion by the bill’s author, David Bahati, that the death penalty could be deleted from the legislation, the committee recommends retaining it. The committee proposes rewording the provision to align with the current Penal Code provision on "aggravated defilement," which is punishable by death.

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