Dr. Sylvia Tamale, a human rights activist and lecturer of law has said that the Anti-homosexuality Bill under scrutiny is unnecessary because it duplicates existing laws like the Penal Code (Amendment) Act.
She said it is key to protect children and penalise individuals who abuse them, which she said is provided for in section 129 of the Penal Code.
Section 129 of the Penal Code (Amendment) Act states that, ’Any person who performs a sexual act with another person who is below the age of 18 years…commits a felony called aggravated defilement and is, on conviction by the High Court, liable to suffer death’.
“Should sexual abuse of children be punished? Absolutely. Should their recruitment in sexual acts be punished? Absolutely. Should rape be punished? Absolutely. Both heterosexual and homosexual abuse and assault of children must be punished in the harshest possible way and the Penal Code deals with these issues very effectively,” Tamale said.
She noted that pedophiles have no place in a civilised society but added that pedophilia and homosexuality are different concepts.
Dr. Busingye Kabumba, the Director of the Human Rights and Peace Centre (HURIPEC) at the Makerere School of Law said the Bill in its current state had the tendency to generate public hostility against sexual and gender minorities in Uganda, and was thus ‘unnecessary and problematic’.
“It is important that, in addressing a legitimate concern which is the protection of minors from sexual exploitation, Parliament does not endanger the lives of innocent Ugandans going about their ordinary lives,” Kabumba said.
Legislators, however, noted that the Bill was necessary because it is deterrent to acts of homosexuality against minors.
Usuk County Member of Parliament, Hon. Bosco Okiror said that the vice has been growing and is now affecting children.
“This is no longer a private matter because it is now done in public. Cartoons are even conducting the vice of homosexuality. We have all agreed that recruiting children is wrong and we must legislate according to the times. Back then, there was no easy access to internet like now,” Okiror said.
Hon. Santa Alum (UPC, Oyam District) said that the essence of the Bill is to protect children from being recruited into homosexual acts and added that, there is need to legislate according to the changing times.
“Yes, the Penal Code still exists but Parliament is still passing laws. Parliament comes to pass laws when there is a problem in society and this new Bill before us is going to help us address some of these issues. We have a problem before us and cannot fold our hands and look on,” said Alum.
Hon. James Nsaba Buturo (NRM, Bufumbira County East) pointed out the need to resist influence on Uganda’s traditional norms.
“Africans are being used to accept this nonsense of the Western World and homosexuality is on the agenda. We should stand as Africans and say enough is enough. We should not be a dumping ground for interests of the Western World,” Nsaba Buturo said.
Tamale said that the concerns of recruitment of minors into homosexuality have been raised before but with very little evidence.
“I want any right thinking Ugandan to give me one justification why homosexuals would want to take over the world. Why? For what purpose?” she said.
Rev. Canon Christine Shimanya, the coordinator of prayer and intercession at the office of the Archbishop of Church of Uganda said that the proposed Bill should provide for reorientation of victims of homosexuality.
“May be you have not met parents whose children have been lured into this vice, but meet them and see what I am talking about. I have counselled some of these boys but it is not enough,” she said.
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