KAMPALA, 4 May 2021 – Lawmakers in Uganda have quietly passed a bill that, when signed into law, would ban homosexuality in the East African nation.
The Sexual Offenses Bill 2019 was passed Monday after what some newspaper reports called “a heated debate”.
MPs rejected a proposal that would allow a person, who had consented to a sexual act to withdraw that consent at any time before or during the performance of the sexual act.
The legal and parliamentary affairs committee chairperson, Jacob Oboth Oboth, explained the controversial proposal to journalists.
The proposal, according to him, would have introduced “post-penetration” consent” which would apply in a situation where two people initially engaged in consensual sexual intercourse got to a point where one of the parties to the act changed their mind and withdrew consent.
Male and female MPs were divided when it came to the withdrawal of consent during sexual intercourse but finally settled on rejecting the proposal altogether.
MPs said they worry the proposal – if passed and signed into law – would pose practical and enforcement challenges.
The bill bans all sexual acts between persons of the same gender and lists homosexuality as an “unnatural offense” alongside sexual acts with an animal or sex in an order contrary to nature.
The proposed punishment for engaging in same-sex relations is imprisonment for five years, which MPs adopted with no objection or comment, according to Oboth.
The ban on same-gender sex comes after the Anti-Homosexuality Act was passed by parliament in 2013 providing for life imprisonment or the death penalty for persons found guilty of homosexuality.
Although the bill was signed into law in 2014 by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, it was annulled by Uganda’s Constitutional Court after activists argued successfully that it had been passed during a parliamentary session that lacked a quorum.