As Parliament debates the Marriage and Divorce Bill, women MPs are divided on whether to scrap cohabitation clauses in the Bill or leave them in.
The divisions manifested during a two-day workshop to discuss the Bill held at Imperial Royale Hotel, Kampala starting Friday.
Cohabitation, dowry and marital rape emerged as the major issues in the Bill, which are still contentious despite the fact that the committee on legal and parliamentary affairs that was tasked to study the Bill has its report almost ready.
While some MPs advocated for scrapping of cohabitation from the Bill, others insisted it should remain.
Those in favour of doing away with it argued that cohabitation is not a form of marriage and therefore has nothing to do with marriage or divorce - the subjects of the Bill.
They proposed that there should be a separate law on cohabitation.
On the flip side, legislators who want cohabitation retained in the Bill said there are many women in Uganda who are cohabiting and should be catered for in the law as far as property rights are concerned.
The object of the Bill is to reform and consolidate the law relating to marriage, separation and divorce, to provide for types of recognized marriages in Uganda, marital rights and duties, recognition of cohabitation in relation to property rights, among others.
"When you cohabit, you are not legally recognised as being married even if you cohabit for 50 years. When it comes to claims, you are not very solid," Dora Byamukama, Uganda's member on the East African Legislative Assembly advised.
"Even religious leaders are asking 'why are you legalizing people living in sin?' I propose that for us to move forward we may need for the time being to put it aside very painfully and we do proper research," she said.
She advised that bride price should be made optional as the Bill proposes. Her call on women MPs is they should be very careful on the issue of property.
"We do not want to assume men's property and men to assume our property by virtue of the fact that we are married," Byamukama observed.
She said MPs must be clear on property that is owned as a family, jointly or individually.
Legislators Jacqueline Amongin and Freda Mubanda and others spoke passionately about leaving the cohabitation clause in the Bill.
MP Krispus Ayena (UPC) also advised that there is no way they would recognize cohabitation as a form of marriage.
He proposed a completely new law on it.
In his view, there must be a way of registering marital property from the day people get married "so that whatever falls under that is not subject to sharing by any intruder."
Ayena called for a special programme for men to discuss the Bill to find out what they think about it.
State minister for gender, Rukia Nakadama said this would be the opportune time to pass the Bill as Uganda celebrates 50 years of independence.