Culture and the 2017 Marriage Bill: a passage or a barrier?

The Marriage Bill 2017 is one of the oldest government Bills in Parliament having been in existence for 5 decades albeit with changing names and segmented achievements. This Bill seeks to consolidate the various laws relating to marriage, separation and divorce in Uganda. The Bill has faced stiff opposition especially from traditional, cultural and religious leaders citing the inconsistencies between the proposed provisions of the Bill and age-long cultural practices, norms, beliefs and values.

In the process of developing the Marriage Bill, culture was identified as one of the contentious issues and therefore CCFU, in partnership with the cultural leaders is analyzing the relationship between cultural rights and the provisions of the Marriage Bill 2017. In 2019 and 2020, CCFU conducted research to establish the nexus between culture and the contentious clauses of the Marriage Bill, 2017. The research was conducted among the cultural communities of Acholi, Lango, Teso, Tooro, Buganda, Busoga, Alur and Karamoja. The research raises interesting findings that can be used to lobby for the passing of the proposed Marriage Bill. It is anticipated that the findings of this study will inform discussions on the relationship and impact of culture and provisions in the Bill. The findings can be used to draw conclusions about the relevance of culture by civil society, government policy makers, cultural and religious leaders.