The Lower Chamber of Parliament yesterday experienced one of its rare debates when the lawmakers failed to agree on whether gender can be incoporated in religion.
Faith Mukakalisa, pointed out Article 18 of the law, saying that the absence of a gender clause is contrary to the what the constitution provides for.
“I feel that it’s a constitutional principle that gender should be part of the law on religion. I ask that a gender clause be incorporated in this law,” she said.
Bernadette Kanzayire who headed the Commission charged with the Law on Religion acknowledged the absence of the gender clause in the law regulating religions, and appealed to her male counterparts to support it.
“I can see most of you shaking your heads saying its impossible, but we should all recognise that women are promoters of change,” she said.
The arguments above were however was not received well. MPs, including Jean Damascene Gasarabwe, said that it was not practical to ask religions to incorporate gender since most of their structures made it impossible.
“I don’t understand when you talk about incoporating gender in religions. How is that possible for Catholics and Moslems?”Gasarabwe wondered.
To this effect, ten of the parliamentarians decided to abstain, a rare occurance in the parliament.
The lawmakers, who adopted the law governing religions recognised some of the negative roles that religions have played in negating the population’s socio-economic development.
One lawmaker, informed the house that some religions were known to discourage their flock from taking part in different government programs like health care and education.
“We all know of the existance of religions that discourage parents from sending children to school and discourage visiting doctors claiming that they pray for their patients to heal,” she said.
Kanzayire explained to the house that the government is above religion saying that that the law would take serious measures against the practices.
“The government is above religion. The government is a believer in all religions. It means that all relgions are expected to obey the law. A parent who doesn’t take his or her child to school because of religion, will definitely face the hand of the law,” Kanzayire said.