Ugandan government lawyers have advised the country’s president Yoweri Museveni not to to approve the anti-gay bill passed by parliament last month as he met the ruling party lawmakers on Thursday.
The Anti-Gay Bill 2023, which was passed by parliament , calls for harsh penalties against anyone who engages in same sex activity. The bill has been roundly condemned by international community and right campaigners.
The President has faced widespread calls to reject the bill, that has been criticized as the world’s harshest anti-gay bill legislation.
Under the Anti-Gay bill, anyone who engages in same sex activity could face life imprisonment while repeat offenders could be sentenced to death according to activists.
Lawyers have advised the president to send back the bill to parliament, according to a letter sent by the deputy attorney general to the speaker of parliament on Thursday and seen by AFP.
The move came as European Parliament voted to condemn the bill and urged EU states to find a way to plead with Museveni not to approve the law, warning relations with Kampala were at stake.
MEPs have urged the European Commission to “use all necessary diplomatic , legal and financially means to convince the president to not sign the law.”
In the letter to speaker Anita Among, deputy general Kaafuzi Jackson Kaargaba said that the government legal team has recommended that the bill “be returned to parliament for reconsideration.”
Uganda’s government wants to “ensure that once the bill is approved , it stands the test of time without being struck down as unconstitutional ,” Karaba said.
The inclusion of the death penalty in particular would leave the bill open to legal challenge in a country that has effectively ended the use of capital punishment, he said.
He also said that the Bill was passed in a chaotic late-right parliamentary session and many of its hastily drafted causes are open to change, he warned that some provisions are “too broad or vague.”
Uganda’s President summoned lawmakers from the ruling National Resistance Movement on Thursday to discuss the bill, with the party’s chief whip Denis Hamson Obua confirming the meeting to AFP before it got under way.
In March, the White House warned Uganda of possible economic problems if the Bill was passed o.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk also urged Museveni not to pass the bill.
Homosexuality was criminalized in Uganda under colonial-era law, but since it gained independence there has never been a conviction for consensual same sex-activity.