Uganda: ‘Amend existing laws to address homosexuality’

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The Attorney General, Hon. Kiryowa Kiwanuka has said that existing laws like the Penal Code Act can be amended to cater for provisions made in the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023.

He listed several clauses in the Bill which he said are already catered for in existing laws which he said could tantamount to duplication if the Bill is passed.

The Attorney General cited clause 2 of the Bill that provides for the offence of homosexuality which he said is addressed by section 145 of the Penal Code that penalises unnatural offences.

Article 145(a) and (c) of the Penal Code states, ‘Any person who has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature’ and ‘any person who permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature…commits a crime and is liable to imprisonment for life’.

The Attorney General said this provision already criminalizes homosexuality as is suggested in the Bill.

“If clause 2 of the Bill is to stand, there may be need to have a consequential amendment of the Penal Code Act. This is to bring clarity to the meaning of the phrase ‘against the order of nature’,” said Kiryowa Kiwanuka.

He cited clause 3(1)(b) of the Bill which stipulates that a person commits the offence of aggravated homosexuality where the offender is a person living with HIV.

The Attorney General noted that this is addressed by sections 41 and 43 of the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act.

He also cited clause 13 of the proposed law that gives a penalty of 10 years imprisonment to a person who contracts a marriage with a person of the same sex or conducts a marriage ceremony between persons of the same sex.

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The Attorney General said this would be a duplication of the Marriage Act.

“The Marriage Act defines a marriage and does not include same sex marriage. In any case, the Constitution under Article 31(2)(a) prohibits same sex marriages. As mentioned earlier, it is important to avoid duplication,” Kiryowa Kiwanuka added.

The Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, James Owere,    concurred that there is need to amend existing provisions in the law.

“The Penal Code Act is supposed to be the main penal law and if we legislate in piecemeal on it, we would affect it. We recommend that we can overhaul existing laws to bring them in conformity with the current times,” Owere said.

The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development recommended that the Bill should include provisions for juvenile homosexual offenders.

The State Minister for Disability, Hon. Hellen Asamo suggested the addition of a sub-clause under clause 2 of the Bill to state that, ’…any child who commits an offence under this section is liable, on conviction, to a custodial sentence (rehabilitation) of three years’.

She observed that this is the maximum for capital offence rehabilitation provided for in the Children’s Act as amended.

The minister also proposed the inclusion of a provision in the Bill for isolation of juvenile and adult homosexual offenders.

“We propose a provision that the minister responsible for Prison Services shall provide special facilities to isolate homosexuality offenders to prevent them from continuing with the practice and protect other inmates from falling victims of homosexual practices,” Asamo said.

The State Minister for Ethics and Integrity, Hon. Rose Lily Akello proposed that the Pornography Control Committee should be listed in the Bill as one of the authorities in place to curb the promotion of homosexuality.

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“Pornography is used to lure and recruit people to start practicing homosexuality. The committee is in position to fight the vice and should also be listed as the agency in charge of rehabilitating victims of homosexuality,” Akello said.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Parliament of the Republic of Uganda.