KAMPALA – Parliament of Uganda has passed the sexual offences Bill 2019 – outlawing same sex relations and activities in the country.
The Bill was passed on Monday during a heated debate, where legislators rejected an additional proposal that would have allowed a person, who had consented to a sexual act to withdraw a case.
The object of the bill is to enact a specific law on sexual offences for the effectual prevention of sexual violence; to enhance punishment of sexual offenders; to the protection of victims during sexual offences trials; to provide for extra territorial application of the law; to repeal some provisions of the Penal Code Act among others.
On Monday, legislators supported the bill, but sharp divisions based on gender in regard to the withdrawal of consent during sexual intercourse, were visible, before it was finally thrown away.
According to the legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee chairperson, Jacob Oboth Oboth, the bill proposes to introduce ‘post-penetration’ consent, which occurs in a situation where two people initially engage in consensual sexual intercourse; but during intercourse one person changes his or her mind and withdraws his or her consent to the sexual act.
The committee, however rejected this proposal in their report, saying the committee is concerned that the provision may pose practical and enforcement challenges, because it wasn’t clear as to how it would practically work.
Several MPs who rose up to speak, commented mostly on the withdrawal of consent during sex.
The chairperson Uganda Women Parliamentary Association – UWOPA, Pamela Nasiyo Kamugo urged that it was vital for a withdrawal of consent, and discontinue, especially on the side of a female partner on realising that the man wasn’t protected.
Kilak North MP, Anthony Akol proposed that the consent should be applied only during health complications, traditions, concluding that it would be difficult to measure approval during the act of having sex.
Stella Atyang, the Moroto Woman MP in her support for the withdrawal of consent during sex said that there are cases when one has consented to having sex naturally, and then the partner introduces unfamiliar styles – which would the ground for the disgruntled partner to withdraw.
Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga noted that the proposal was complicated, especially where it allowed for consent during sex.
The Minister of Finance in Charge of planning, David Bahati said that the proposal to allow withdraw of consent during sex would cause conflict, and hinder the passing of the bill – proposing the deletion of the particular clause.
Monica Amoding, the Kumi Woman MP conceded saying that although many women would have loved to have the withdrawal of consent, she was happy to have it withdrawn and the bill be passed.
Cyrus Aogon, the Kumi MP rejected the proposal on unsolicited contacts like touching a woman or a man, saying sometimes you touch someone by mistake. He also rejected the proposal to punish someone for using gestures, saying this is the process of persuading a partner. Speaker Kadaga, however challenged Aogon whether it was normal to touch a woman in a taxi.
The committee also introduced a ban on sexual act between persons of the same gender -homosexuality.
“The committee therefore recommends that for completeness, clause 11 should stand part of the Bill albeit with the amendments that the ingredients of the offence are defined to include; A ban on a sexual act between persons of the same gender,” said Oboth Oboth.
This proposal is under unnatural offences, which also prohibits sexual act with an animal or sex in an order contrary to nature, which carries a maximum of up to a five-year jail term.
Oboth Oboth said legislators were happy that the ban on homosexuality had finally been documented, concluding that there shouldn’t be any questions related to quorum as was the case last time.
The ban on same-gender sex comes nine years after the Anti-Homosexuality Act was passed in 2013 was annulled by the constitutional court over issues related to lack of quorum.