Uganda to revive anti-homosexuality bill

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Ugandan MPs are spearheading a move to reinstate a draconian anti-gay law that was anulled in the courts last week.

As many as 150 parliamentarians have pledged to back a new Bill– identical to that struck from the statute books on Friday –next month.

If passed, the law would mean LGBT+ citizens could be sentenced to life imprisonment, while people who fail to exposethem to the authorities could also end up being sent to jail.

MP Latif Ssebaggala, who is leading the campaign to reinstate the legislation, described it as a ‘national priority’.

The Constitutional Court which threw out the law did so without considering its contents – simply ruling that it had not been properly ratified when it was passed in February.

It decided that not enough MPs had been present at the vote which passed the bill into law, rendering it unenforceable.

Objectors to the new law said that it was a breach of LGBT+ Ugandans’ constitutional rights and was in any case unnecessary, as homosexuality is already illegal in the country.

MP Medard Bitekyerezo, a vocal supporter of the new Bill, claimed that its proponents would make sure there was a quorum – the number of lawmakers required to pass the Bill – when the Ugandan Parliament reconsiders the matter within weeks.

He also suggested that those MPs who did not back the Bill would be effectively admitting they were LGBT+.

In what appeared to be a veiled threat to dissenters, he told the Associated Press: ‘There will be a show of hands in Parliament so that we know who is a homosexual and who is not.’

He added: ‘I can tell you that it is going to be bloody in Parliament.’

Speaking after the law was quashed last week, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni refused to discuss the matter with journalists.

He is currently in the USA at a summit on Africa being hosted by President Barack Obama.

Museveni is thought to be tacitly in favour of keeping the law scrapped, as it has had serious economic consequences for Uganda, with some Western countries – and the World Bank – withdrawing foreign aid from the African nation in protest.

Uganda is dependent on international aid money for around 20% of its annual national budget.

President Obama has previously described the law as ‘odious’ while US Secretary of State John Kerry likened it to anti-semitism in Nazi Germany.

However Ugandan priest Martin Ssempa accused the West of attempting to bully Uganda into accepting liberal values not shared with the country’s population.

‘It’s all very suspicious in terms of lack of sovereignty and independence,’ he told the Associated Press in relation to the manner in which the law was struck out.

‘Barack Obama and others have exerted unprecedented political pressure on Uganda,’ he insisted.