50-year-old Uganda on spot over gay lawsBy NJERI RUGENE in Midrand, South Africa | Tuesday, October 9 2012 at 17:47
The hardline stance that Uganda has taken against homosexuals sparked heated debate in the Pan-African Parliament as the House paid tribute to the country as it celebrated 50 years of independence Tuesday.
Mr Idris Musa Ndele from Chad moved the motion in recognition of Uganda's big day, which was seconded by his Kenyan counterpart, Mr Gideon Mung'aro, and unanimously adopted by the House.
MPs praised President Yoweri Museveni saying his leadership had seen the country move from a dictatorship to democrasy. They also praised Uganda's health policies and progress made in the fight against HIV and Aids, as well as in the empowerment of women.
But a remark by South African opposition MP Santosh Vinita Kalyan challenging Uganda's hostility towards homosexuality momentarily changed the momentum of the debate.
Ms Vinita, the Democratic Alliance's party whip, had started off by showering praises on the Museveni government for placing health 'on top of its agenda'', citing the fight against the Aids as an example.
However, she said, homophobia was "a bloat'' in the progress the Ugandan Government had made.
"Uganda has a bloat in terms of its stand and attitude towards homosexuals. Regrettably, they want to criminalise homosexuality,'' Ms Kalyan said while supporting the motion on Uganda.
The issue, she said, was not about "whether one supports homosexuality or not'', but it was about their human rights.
However, Ugandan MP Cecilia-Atim Ogwal defended the anti-gay position, stating she was proud that her country was at the forefront in rejecting "the promotion'' of homosexuality.
"We want to tell Africa that Uganda has decided to uphold our value and culture and we are not stepping on anybody's values. We cannot be allowed to practice polygamy in foreign countries and yet they come here and try to make us accept what is not natural,'' she said.
The MP who received a thunderous applause by the House, urged her colleagues in the Pan-African Parliament to pass a resolution "to uphold the value of God and values, of Africa''.
Ms Ogwal received support from Bostwana MP Walter Masisi and Kenya's Mung'aro.
Mr Masisi said although homosexuality was not a pronounced issue in Bostwana, leaders were setting themselves up to reject its recognition "because we know it is coming''.
"We shall refuse it and punch them hard (advocates). We believe in our own values and we want to start denouncing it in parliament, in meetings and in other forums even in the countdown to our elections,'' said the MP in reference to the country's 2014 elections.
A United Nations agency earlier also paid tribute to Uganda Parliament for pushing the government to appropriate enough money for maternal, new born and child health as well as family planning services.
Mr Bunmi Makinwa UNFA's Africa Director, recalled that Uganda's recently declined to approval the 2012/2013 budget proposals unless there was an additional money for health.
In 2010, the same Parliament had refused to approve a $100 million World Bank loan until an additional $30 million was added as funds for maternal health.
Should Kenya spend $8.2 million to acquire an office for retired President Kibaki?speak out
Read Story: Should Kenya spend $8.2 million to acquire an office for retired President Kibaki?
- The girl who met Gaddafi 'in hell'
- Nigerian deportee demands pay for Kenyan officials' release
- Ethiopia secures $300m Indian rail loan
- 7 Kenyans held in Lagos over deported 'Nigerian'
- Clinton to visit Senegal ahead of Obama
- Nile saga: Ethiopia and Egypt now favour dialogue
- Kenyan call girls go high-tech
- Nairobi in pictures: Past and present
- Hospital quiet on Museveni birth records mystery
Beyond the ballot