By Nasser Kasozi Akandwanaho
The Parliament of Uganda last week passed the Sexual Offenses Bill 2019 reintroducing the ban on homosexuality in the country.
In a hotly contested debate on the floor of Parliament on Monday legislators also rejected the proposal that allows 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.
According to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee Chairperson, Jacob Oboth Oboth, said that, the bill seeks 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.
He said that the major object of the bill is to enact a specific law on sexual offenses for the effectual prevention of sexual violence; to enhance punishment of sexual offenders; to the protection of victims during sexual offenses trials; to provide for extra territorial application of the law; to repeal some provisions of the Penal Code Act among others.
Members of Parliament generally supported the bill, but men and women were divided when it came to issues of withdrawal of consent during sexual intercourse, before finally rejecting it.
The committee however rejects this proposal in their report, saying the committee is concerned that the provision may pose practical and enforcement challenges, saying the provision is not clear as to how this will practically work.
Members of Parliament from different sheds of opinion rose up to speak, many of them commented on the withdrawal on consent during sex.
Pamela Nasiyo Kamugo, the Chairperson Uganda Women Parliamentary Association (UWOPA) said that, when you realise that the man is not protected, a woman should be allowed to withdraw consent and discontinue.
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 things unfamiliar and it should be made okay for the dissatisfied partner to withdraw.
Kilak North MP Anthony Akol proposes that consent should be applied only during health complications, traditions, but at this rate it will be difficult to measure consent during the act of having sex.
The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga said 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.
Monica Amoding, the Kumi Woman MP conceded saying that although many women would have loved to have the withdrawal of consent, she is happy to have it withdrawn and the bill be passed.
Silas 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 wooing a partner.
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 found under unnatural offences which also prohibits sexual act with an animal or sex in an order contrary to nature. The punishment for this is imprisonment for five years.
Although the proposals were read before the committee, members adopted with no objection or comment.
Oboth Oboth says they are happy that the ban on homosexuality has finally happened, he says that that there should not be any questions on forum like the last time.
The Anti-Homosexuality law was first passed by Parliament in 2013, setting life imprisonment or the death penalty for anyone convicted of the offence. Although the bill was signed into law in 2014 by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, it was annulled at the constitutional court on grounds that it was passed without quorum in Parliament.