In a notable development, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda has signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2023 into law. The news was confirmed by the Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among, in a statement released on Monday.
President Museveni, the current head of state of Uganda, adhered to his responsibilities as stated under Article 91 (3) (a) of the Constitution, by assenting to this significant piece of legislation, the Anti-Homosexuality Act. Speaker Among acknowledged this act through her public communication.
The Speaker shared her sentiments on the progress, emphasizing the Parliament’s commitment to responding to the demands of their constituents. This legislation, she asserted, safeguards the inviolability of the family institution as defined in Article 31 of the Ugandan Constitution. She further pointed out that they have shown their firm resolve to protect the cultural heritage and the aspirations of their people as outlined under objectives 19 and 24 of the national objectives and directive principles of state policy.
Interestingly, the bill had previously been returned to parliament by President Museveni for refinement after its initial approval. The Attorney General had counseled the President against signing the bill in its initial form, causing the decision for its return.
The chief legal advisor for the government had raised concerns about certain provisions of the new law. Notably, it stipulated a compulsory death penalty for individuals found guilty of aggravated homosexuality, which was deemed to be at odds with articles 21, 22(1), 28, 44(a), and 44(c) of the Constitution.
Moreover, the Attorney General stressed that the Constitutional Court had already ruled on laws pertaining to mandatory death sentences, deeming them inconsistent with the Constitution. He also warned that the proposed law might infringe upon the principle of separation of powers by mandating the death sentence, which leaves no room for judicial discretion in sentencing.
The Attorney General further pointed out several other aspects of the new law that needed parliamentary review prior to the president’s approval, to prevent potential legal challenges questioning its constitutionality.
In response to these suggestions, parliament proceeded to revise the bill before passing it a second time. The Speaker of Parliament praised President Museveni for his decision to finally approve the revised bill, a move she believes will serve to protect Ugandan cultural values.
In an expression of gratitude, Speaker Among thanked the president and her parliamentary colleagues for remaining resolute in the face of pressure from naysayers and conspiracy theorists, acting in the best interests of the country. She also urged those responsible for enforcing this new Anti-Homosexuality Bill to uphold it diligently, impartially, and resolutely, for it reflects the will of the Ugandan people.
This development arrives amidst growing concerns among the general public, including MPs, over whether the president would assent to the law. There were apprehensions that signing this law might result in sanctions from Western countries.
Despite this potential backlash, the State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Henry Okello Oryem, assured the Daily Monitor that while the government is aware of the looming threat of sanctions, it would not be swayed from its course. He stated unequivocally that the government would not be deterred by the potential consequences of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.