Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has said that religious leaders are to blame for the delayed enactment of the Marriage law.
The law which covered a wide range of marriage, divorce and gender issues, including bride-wealth, marital rights, dissolution of marriage, and the rights of cohabiting couples has been in the pipeline since 1964. It was initially tabled and debated as the Domestic Relations Bill but was later split by the Law Reform Commission into two parts; Marriage and Divorce Bill, and the Administration of Muslim Personal Law, intended to provide for a separate law for the Islamic faith.
In 2017, the law reform commission again revised the title to Marriage bill, a move which was intended to reduce on the controversies surrounding the proposed law. The changes also came with the removal of a clause that recognized cohabitation as a form of marriage.
Today, Pastor Joseph Sserwadda, the Presiding Apostle of the Born Again Faith in Uganda called on parliament to expedite the scrutiny of the Marriage Bill, saying that its enactment will silence the people seeking to destabilize the marriage institution.
Pastor Sserwadda said that marriage in Uganda was under threat and the time for the law to be enacted was long overdue. He was speaking during the Parliament ecumenical prayers, organized as part of Parliament week.
But Kadaga said that it was surprising that the Church is now pushing for the law which it battled for years. She added that Mozambique, a catholic country has been able to enact a fair family law and so has Kenya, and wondered why the bill was stigmatized by Ugandans.
Sserwadda argued that the initial drafts did not subject the celebration of marriages to the rights, ceremonies, customs and practices of the different Christian denominations, a stark contrast to the provisions of the Marriage and Divorce Act of the Mohammedan religion. He observed a need for a law that incorporates church-based mechanisms and arrangements to address marriage issues.
Sserwadda also called for the revision on the nature of licensing which caters for licensing buildings and not ministers of the gospel, saying that marriage is not about things but rather about people. Sserwadda says that these licensing rules have contributed to a lot of inconveniences while conducting marriages.