KAMPALA – The Parliamentary Forum on Ethics and Integrity has urged Ugandan candidates aspiring to join the East African Legislative Assembly [ EALA ] to uphold the moral and cultural values of the country while debating the Sexual and Reproductive Health Bill, 2017.
The legislators on the forum argue that the Bill which has been tabled and dropped twice in EALA in Arusha, Tanzania, offends the cultural and moral values of Uganda and have urged the next EALA legislators to fight it.
“After all the failed attempts, they decided to sugarcoat it with some popular provisions, but when you assess it, you will find abortion, homosexuality, and these are not our values, this is not our culture, we said we must fight back,” James Nsaba Buturo, the forum chairperson, said.
Buturo was speaking at the parliamentary building during a meeting between the forum members and candidates aspiring for EALA at Parliament House.
He said the Bill which has been rejected at a regional level and within national governments should not be re-drafted as proposed.
The bill was introduced in EALA in 2017 but was withdrawn in 2021 following contestations registered during public hearings in East African Community [EAC] member states.
However, the Assembly recently instructed its Committee on General Purpose chaired by Ugandan legislator, Denis Namara, to redraft the Bill.
Gulu City Woman MP, Betty Aol Ocan said she did not buy into the justification of the Bill to legalize abortion calling upon the upcoming EALA legislators to oppose it.
“The argument is that our women are dying of abortion – they propose that abortion should be legalised such that it is performed properly. I say, no. This is like saying let us legalise murder,” Ocan said.
A Pro-life advocate, Rev. Fr. Jonathan Opio, said there were several provisions in the Bill, which he said, are unacceptable in Uganda, highlighting universal access to contraceptives to children without their parents’ consent as a key issue to needs to be debated.
“Contraception for everybody in the life cycle is very clear in the Bill. If children [girls] from 10 years can now officially accessing contraception without parental interference, are we still protecting the innocence of children?” Asked Opio.
He added: “We have made analysis on each clause of the Bill and the target of the Bill is promotion of abortion and contraception for everybody in the life cycle.”
Former Ngora district Woman MP, Jaqueline Amongin, also aspiring to join EALA, revealed that once voted, she will put up a spirited fight against the Bill she said is meant to legalise practices that are not yet accepted locally.
“I will be consistent on what my country’s laws say. What is my culture in regards to homosexuality? In regards to abortion, what does the law say in regards to termination of life,” asked Amongin.
She noted that her previous experience in the Pan-African Parliament where she represented Uganda is that often people use sexual and reproductive health to mask other provisions that would otherwise be rejected in a particular country.
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