A few days ago, I watched MPs thumping their chests in parliament threatening to re-introduce the Anti-Homosexuality bill. One after another, they took to the podium spitting fire against a group of people that have become the easiest political darts that politicians launch each time they want to engage in cheap political games. Experience has taught me that whenever politicians rear the ugly head of prejudicial hatred and sexual morality I must take a close look at the political landscape and analyze what is at stake.
This time, the reason why the panic button is being pushed and the homophobic dust is being raised again is not hard to detect. The 317 MPs who voted to lift the presidential age limit from the Constitution and extended their tenure from five to seven years are panicking. Having voted against the will of their constituents, they know that their chances of being re-elected are next to zero. The two-year grace period that they ‘bought’ for themselves during the Constitutional amendment is their only saving grace (pun intended). The Constitutional Court in Mbale is now threatening to reverse all this.
The age-lift that the MPs gave to President Museveni was a quid pro quo for their two-year fresh lease on parliamentary life. Now they need his guarantee that the two extra years remain untouched. The MPs understand the political migraine caused by the international backlash on the passing of the Anti-Homosexuality law. Under the circumstances, Ugandan homosexuals become the ultimate ‘pawn’ in the game of politics between the MPs and the President.
Professor of Law
EDITOR’S NOTE: Prof Sylvia Tamale is a celebrated feminist who has written extensively on women affairs and critiqued the government. Below are links to some of her other works