Last edited: July 31, 2005

Homosexual Rights Divide Cabinet

The Monitor, July 8, 2005

By Emmanuel Mulondo & Richard Mutumba

KAMPALA—CABINET was on Wednesday sharply divided as the committee of the whole House voted to completely bar and criminalise homosexuality.

Ministers Tom Butime (state for communication), Kezimbira Miyingo (state for internal affairs), Tim Lwanga (ethics and integrity), Namirembe Bitamazire (education), Moses Ali (first deputy premier) voted for Bugweri MP Abdu Katuntu’s amendment to the Bill’s clause 11 which amends Article 31 for recognition of marriage between a man and woman.

On the other side were ministers Tarsis Kabwegyere (local governments), Richard Nduhura (state for trade), Adolf Mwesigye (state for constitutional affairs) and Attorney General Kiddu Makubuya, who voted against the amendment.

The House was considering the Constitutional Amendment Bill No. 3, which among other things seeks to provide for lifting of presidential term limits and centralising of appointment of chief administrative officers.

Katuntu said the Bill’s clause as it stood recognised marriage between men and women of age but his amendment sought to completely criminalise same sex relationships. He said the government clause as it was in the Bill implied same sex relationships could exist without legal recognition.

The Attorney General, Kiddu Makubuya’s attempts to persuade Katuntu drop the amendment failed as many members who cheered for his explanation supported the MP. The Minister of State for Finance, Mr Isaac Musumba, another legal brain in the Cabinet explained that no marriage could arise without legal backing.

When the matter finally went to vote, 111 members supported Katuntu’s amendment, 17 voted against it while three abstained. Some human rights activists have argued that lack of legal recognition for gays and lesbians in Uganda amounted to a human right abuse and have formed pressure groups to push for recognition.

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