Ugandans May be Back Peddling on Anti-Gay Bill

A committee meeting in Ugandan of Parliamentarians

Stephen Tashobya, chair of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of the Ugandan Parliament, declines to promise to return the bill to Parliament within the 45 day period required by Parliament rule and he declined to comment about any pressure from the Executive branch to stall the bill.

Stephen Tashobya, chair of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of the Ugandan Parliament, told Warren Throckmorton yesterday that he had not scheduled consideration for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.  Asked if his committee would write a new report, or stick with the report issued during the last Parliament, Tashobya declined to say. “The committee will have a say on that and we will meet soon to decide how to proceed with all of the bills returned to the committee,” Tashobya explained.

Perhaps the committees are bowing under pressure from the various sources expressing abhorrence at the recent reintroduction of MP David Bahati’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, dubbed as the Kill the Gays Bill in Uganda.

Parliament rules require bills sent to committee to be acted on and returned for consideration within 45 days. Last year, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga warned committee chairs that they could face unspecified sanctions if this rule was not kept.

According to Parliament’s rules (see below), Tashobya could ask Parliament for more time if the committee has not prepared the necessary report within 45 days. At that point, Parliament could grant or decline the request. If the request is declined, Parliament could act on the bill at that point. If an extension is granted, the bill will be considered at the end of that period whether or not the committee’s work is complete.  See Throckmorton’s.

This is not time to let the guard down as the Bill could well surface quickly and also in another form contained in a different piece of legislation.  While there has been much international pressure brought to Uganda, the local coalition of activists fear backlash and at the same time are working to change the tide from within.

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