Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga on Tuesday evening directed the state minister for gender and culture, Peace Mutuuzo, to present a statement on the alleged proposal to ban Imbalu – a traditional circumcision ritual among the Bagisu.

The directive followed complaints by legislators from Bugisu under their Bugisu Parliamentary Caucus calling for an apology and withdrawal of the state minister’s statement against the Imbalu cultural practice.

Mu­tu­uzo, while ad­dress­ing jour­nal­ists at the Uganda Me­dia Cen­ter last week, was quoted stat­ing that Im­balu is a bar­baric prac­tice, which de­hu­man­izes the prac­tice of cir­cum­ci­sion and also en­cour­ages sex­ual ac­tiv­ity among mi­nors.

Mu­tu­uzo, who was speak­ing ahead of In­ter­na­tional Fam­ily Day on May 15th 2017, as­serted that in­stead of us­ing crude meth­ods of cir­cum­ci­sion where tra­di­tional sur­geons use one in­stru­ment to cut the boys, it would be ad­vis­able for them to in­stead do it at hos­pi­tals where safe male cir­cum­ci­sion ser­vices are pro­vided.

How­ever her rev­e­la­tions did not go down well with sec­tions of the pub­lic, in­clud­ing leg­is­la­tors from Bugisu sub re­gion.

The Bugisu Par­lia­men­tary Group on May 16, 2017 called a press con­fer­ence, where they re­buked the min­is­ter for what they termed as at­tempts to ban their cul­tural prac­tices and vowed to fight it.

Vin­cent Wob­woya, Bu­dadiri East MP, said the Im­balu is a deeply en­trenched tra­di­tion among them, which can­not be wished away by a min­is­ter who has no idea of their cul­tural norms.

Dur­ing the af­ter­noon ple­nary sit­ting, Sironko Woman Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment, Flo­rence Nam­bozo raised the mat­ter, ques­tion­ing the min­is­ter’s au­dac­ity to

“The cir­cum­ci­sion prac­tice she wants to ban is the same one through which we were born,” an an­gry Nam­bozo told the House.

In re­sponse, Kadaga in­formed the House that she had heard me­dia re­ports about the mat­ter but asked that the min­is­ter pro­vides a state­ment to the MPs to clar­ify the mat­ter.

Mutuuzo described the Imbalu culture as an old fashioned practice which dehumanises circumcision and also encourages sexual activity among adolescents.

The furious MPs led by the Sironko Woman MP Florence Namboozo said that the minister’s statement that the culture encourages young people to engage in early sex had caused damage to the Bamasaaba community.

Namboozo described the minister’s comments as an insult to the Bamasaaba culture which they cherish a lot.

John Baptist Nambeshe, the Manjiya County MP also noted how the minister’s statement disregarded the rights of Bagisu.