By Alex Esagala
A Ugandan delegation at the ongoing 61st session of the Organisation of the African, Caribean and Pacific States Parliamentary Assembly (OACPS PA) and 42nd Session of the ACP-European Union joint Parliamentary Assembly (ACP-EU JPA) in Maputo City, Mozambique has vowed to oppose plans by pro-gay nations to impose the promotion of homosexuality and abortion as new conditions for trade and aid relationships with European Union.
The delegation which is attending a Joint Parliamentary Assembly is being led by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Thomas Tayebwa, a vocal critic of homosexuality, abortion and neocolonialism. Other Members on the delegation include: Hon. Theodore Ssekikubo the MP for Lwemiyaga County, Hon Cecilia Barbara Atim Ogwal, the Woman MP for Dokolo District, Hon Maurice Kibalya the MP for Bugabula South, Hon Elijah Okupa, the MP for Kasilo County, Dr Samuel Opio Acuti for MP Kole North and Hon Lucy Okello.
The joint sitting was on Monday officially opened by President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique who commended the Organization for its prime role in the economic and social development of its member states. President Nyusi also called upon participating member states to focus more on the climate agenda and how to deal with risks related to Natural disasters.
The deputy speaker said member countries are also engaging on the post Cotonou Agreement which governs the ACP-EU relations. Diplomatic, trade and aid relationships between the European Union and ACP states are governed by the Cotonou Agreement. The agreement includes a dialoge on ‘’political issues of mutual concern or of general significance’’ and ‘’discrimination of any kind.”
Tayebwa mentioned a deep concern over calls by the EU to adopt homosexuality by the ACP countries, a development he said Uganda would vehemently reject. “We shall be making a report to our president as Parliament which will be a guiding tool before the signing of the Post Cotonou Agreement,” the deputy speaker said.
He added: “We are demanding that we broadly define the issue of human rights. We have discovered that with the Post Cotonou agreement, the are hidden clauses around human rights. Clauses to do with Sexuality, promotion of LGBT/homosexuality and clauses to do with abortion.”
Tayebwa said such practices are un-African and while “the EU is demanding that we take a certain root, they should also know the character of our society.” He added: “We are a society that isn’t ready for homosexuality and we are a society that’s not ready for abortion. We as Africa, believe that the institution of the family is at the core of whatever we are doing.”
Representatives from the pro-gay nations insist on an amendment to the ACP-EU rules to have the debate on the rights of homosexuals even after objections African members. Hon. Cecilia Ogwal backed Tayebwa’s stance on rejecting homosexuality —saying Africa isn’t comfortable with EU’s conditions on sexual orientation and abortion. “We are all geared up to make sure that whatever decision we take, it is in the interest of the people whom we represent.”
Issues related to climate change and food security; health and the fight against terrorism; women empowerment for political leadership; migration and sustainable growth, among other current matters have been discussed—with the ACP-EU describing Uganda’s women’s emancipation as one of the most successful ventures an African country has ever undertaken.
Tayebwa also said that Uganda was lauded on other key grounds including passing important laws that have helped to combat money laundering and allowing the youths to legislative on the their affairs. Uganda has the youngest Parliamentarians with an average age of 33. Others countries in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific have an average age of 55 and beyond.
On money laundering, Hon Ogwal commended the Parliament of Uganda and President Museveni for being proactive. “Uganda has been able to pass the law of 2013 (amended in 2015) and recently we passed another amended, Uganda is on course as far as taking control of the situation when it comes to money laundering.”
The ACP–EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly was created to bring together the elected representatives of the European Union (the Members of the European Parliament) and the elected representatives of the African, Caribbean and Pacific states (“ACP countries”) that have signed the Cotonou Agreement. Since the entry into force of the Treaty on European Union and EU enlargement it has acquired a more prominent role.
A substantial part of the work of the JPA is directed towards promoting human rights and democracy and the common values of humanity, and this has produced joint commitments undertaken within the framework of the UN conferences. The Joint Parliamentary Assembly meets twice a year in plenary session, alternately in the European Union and in an ACP State. With a view to strengthening regional integration and fostering cooperation between national parliaments, meetings between EU and ACP members of parliament may be arranged at regional or sub regional level.
It should be remembered that Uganda and the EU have on a number of times, including on oil and human rights, with President Yoweri Museveni telling off the European Union MPs. (Read Stories Here and There).