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Anti-Gay Bill should Reflect Donor Interests-EU

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Ambassador Schmidt in an interview with Uganda Radio Network says Europe’s partnership with Uganda is built on development of common principles such as human rights. These include no persecution of minorities on the basis of sex, religion, gender and sexual orientation.
EU Ambassador Kristian Schmidt

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The signing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law should take into account the protection of donor interests, the head of the EU Delegation to Uganda Kristian Schmidt says.

Ambassador Schmidt in an interview with Uganda Radio Network says Europe’s partnership with Uganda is built on development of common principles such as human rights. These include no persecution of minorities on the basis of sex, religion, gender and sexual orientation.

Parliament, last month passed the controversial billcriminalizing, outlawing and providing harsh jail terms for same sex relationships in the country.

Ndorwa West MP David Bahati first introduced the bill in 2009 with a death penalty clause for some homosexual acts. It was briefly shelved when Donor countries threatened to withdraw aid to Uganda, saying the law disregards principles of foreign policy.

Parliament however passed the bill supplanting the death penalty provision with a proposal of life in prison for "aggravated homosexuality. The bill is now awaiting presidential assent.

But amidst protests last week, President Yoweri Museveni told the NRM Party Caucus that he would only assent to the controversial Bill if he gets scientific proof that homosexuality is not a genetic and biological problem.

 Ambassador Schmidt says Uganda should take into consideration its cooperation with the European Union.

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The EU ambassador adds that labeling homosexuals abnormal is wrong. This is based on a December 28th letter to Parliamentary Speaker Rebecca Kadaga in which President Museveni described homosexuals as abnormal and in need of economic empowerment.

However, Ambassador Schmidt does commend President Museveni for seeking ways to deal with the sexual minority group.

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The President has 30 days under Article 91(3) of the constitution to assent to the Bill or return it to Parliament with a request that it be revised on a particular provision.  He has so far surpassed the sated days by seven.

The Constitution under Article 91(6) is mandated to reconsider the bill and pass it again and resend it to the president. If the president rejects the law twice, the speaker can cause a copy to be laid before the House for it to be passed into law, with a two-thirds majority, without presidential assent.

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