On a conference call hosted by the Center for Constitutional Rights today, Ugandan LGBT activist Frank Mugisha said the country's so-called Kill The Gays Bill could die a procedural death as early as tomorrow.
Unless Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga asks for an extension of the parliamentary session, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill could fall without a vote when parliament closes for the year on December 15. The Speaker is in Italy today, visiting the Pope, but could still call for an extended session, said Mugisha. The executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda also noted that even if the bill dies this year, it could easily be picked up again in the 2013 session.
"It is important to note that Parliament is most likely to close tomorrow, the 14th of December, or the 20th of December," said Mugisha on a conference call this afternoon. The Speaker has indicated that she might ask for an extension to the 20th .If parliament closes tomorrow, that means this session will have closed before the antigay bill is debated. And then we'll wait until January when Parliament reconvenes."
Mugisha was careful not to downplay the animus toward LGBT people that continues in the east African nation, despite the bill's potential downfall.
"If this legislation comes before Parliament for debate, there is a lot of support from members of parliament, so definitely, it will be passed. And if this legislation is passed, it is sent over to the president of Uganda to sign. There has been rumor that the president of Uganda may not sign this legislation, and in that case, I think the president might sign this legislation. However, he might ask for this legislation to be reviewed, and watered down. Also, if he refused to sign this legislation and it has been rejected, our parliament can still pass the legislation if a certain percentage of parliament supports the legislation."
Likely fueling Mugisha's cautious optimism is a recent statement Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi made to Ugandan TV station WBS saying he believes current law sufficiently prohibits sex acts between people of the same sex, implying that the bill is unneeded. Mbabazi also acknowledged that LGBT people have always existed in Uganda. Watch Mbabazi speak out in the video below, posted on December 12.