Leading law academics at Uganda’s biggest University, Makerere have voiced strong opposition against a controversial law being rammed through Parliament seeking to criminalize homosexuality in the East African country.
Interfacing with the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs on Thursday, Prof. Sylvia Tamale and Dr Busingye Kabumba dissuaded Members of Parliament (MPs) against passing the Anti-Homosexuality Law on grounds that it is discriminatory in nature and defeats the spirit of “Ubuntu” – Humanness.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, a law sponsored by Lawyer and MP Asuman Basalirwa is Parliament’s second attempt at legislating against the queer sexual practice after the Constitutional Court of Uganda trashed a similar law in 2014 for lack of quorum – Prof. Sylvia Tamale was among the petitioners in that case.
“Me I don’t care whether it is one person who is a homosexual – that person has a right to be on this earth like you and me. And I think it is an abuse of power to say that they don’t have a right to exist like this law is saying.”Prof. Sylvia Tamale told the Parliamentarians.
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Besides criminalizing homosexuality practices, the Anti-Homosexuality law purports to introduce offenses for those deemed to promote homosexuality, among other ways, through the recruitment of children.
The law further purports to provide for the offense of homosexual rape.
In this regard, the tough-talking Professor noted the law was simply a knock-off of the Penal Code – Uganda’s major criminal law, as all those offenses are already taken care of under that law which renders the Anti-homosexuality law unnecessary.
“ The Penal Code (as amended) deals with these issues effectively. So does the Sexual Offences Act which Parliament itself passed recently. All Ugandans agree that Paedophiles have no place in a civilized society but let us not make a mistake; Paedophilia and Homosexuality is not the same thing and it is well established that the majority of paedophiles are heterosexual.”The Professor argued.
“ So it is against our African ethos – ‘Ubuntu’- when we legislate to ‘disappear’ the identity of a section of our population or when we penalize a victim-less crime. However much we may hate them or find them disgusting, we really can not disappear our Citizens.”She added.
Considering the private nature of sexuality, Prof. Sylvia Tamale said the lives and careers of people are at risk of being shattered at the ‘slightest’ accusation that they are homosexual.
Referring to Former Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, who conceived the controversial Public Order Management – a law that gave the Uganda Police wide powers to foil demonstrations, Prof. Syliva Tamale said;
“ The Rt. Hon Amama Mbabazi authored the Public Order Management Act. When he decided to run for President in 2016, it was the same law that was used by the Police to stop him from campaigning. So don’t be shocked when this law one day comes to haunt you”
Benjamin is a Digital Legal News Journalist (trained by Reuters) and digital media enthusiast who founded The Legal Reports website in January, 2020 while a fourth year law student at Makerere University school of law.
Prior to that, Benjamin used to write amateur blogs and some of his legal commentaries were published by the Daily Monitor and Independent Magazine - both leading publications in Uganda. He covers lawyers, law students, judges, judiciary, courts, law schools, and law firms.