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Constitutional Court Sets Date to Hear Petition Challenging Anti Homosexuality Law :: Uganda Radionetwork

Constitutional Court Sets Date to Hear Petition Challenging Anti Homosexuality Law

Kiryabwire said if there are still outstanding issues like those that haven't be done ,should be concluded today and parties be ready to hear Ssempa and Langa's respective applications on Wednesday.
11 Dec 2023 17:01
Some of the parties in the case . Left (Lawyer Gawaya Tegule and his client Pastor Martin Ssempa ) at the Constitutional Court.
The Constitutional Court in Kampala has fixed December 18th, 2023 to start the hearing of four consolidated petitions challenging the legality of the Anti-Homosexuality Law which was enacted about six months ago.

The petitions which were consolidated about two weeks ago were filed by; West Budama MP Fox Odoi, Uganda’s Ambassador to South Africa Kintu Nyango, Veteran Journalist Andrew Mwenda, Makerere University Law professors; Sylvia Tamale and Dr Busingye Kabumba, and Civil Society Organization including Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum HRAPF through its Executive Director Dr. Adrian Jjuuko.

The petitioners through their respective lawyers seek among others to strike out from the Constitution a law that criminalizes what they call “consensual sex among adults.  They further petitioned the court seeking annulment of the Anti-homosexuality Law on grounds that it infringes on several articles of the Constitution that relate to personal freedoms and dignity as well as hampering the fight against HIV / AIDS.

On Monday, the parties with their respective lawyers appeared before the Constitutional Court presided over by Justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire as a single Judge who informed them that the petition shall be heard by a panel of five justices to be announced on Tuesday.

The court also set Wednesday this week for the panel that will have been announced to hear the applications in which Makerere Community  Church's Born Again Pastor Martin Ssempa and Engineer  Stephen Langa want to be joined as parties in the case.

In his application,  Pastor Ssempa through his lawyer, Gawaya Tegule wants to join the Attorney General to defend the Anti-homosexuality Law while Langa wants to be joined as a necessary party.

Ssempa’s request to join as a respondent is intended to support upholding the law citing the preservation of traditional, moral, and cultural values that endorse heterosexuality as his motivation.   Ssempa emphasized the significance of the matter, characterizing it as a contentious topic that triggers impassioned debates on religion, morality, African traditions, societal norms, and essential imperatives.

He highlighted the previous challenge to the Anti-Homosexuality legislation in 2014, expressing dismay at its annulment, which he and many Ugandans perceived as a looming threat with potentially irreversible negative consequences on society if unchecked. On that basis, he wants to join the Attorney General to put up a strong defense aimed at upholding the Anti-Homosexuality Law.

But before the matter could go on further, Justice Kiryabwire indicated that if the parties had agreed to the amicus curiae rules, the court should have already admitted them.

Kiryabwire said if there are still outstanding issues like those that haven't been done, should be concluded today and parties be ready to hear  Ssempa and Langa's respective applications on Wednesday.

The Judge also advised the petitioners to revise their pleadings regarding the argument that the Speaker of Parliament, Anita Annet Among was biased while presiding over the August House that passed the Anti-Homosexuality law.

The parties were still locked in a disagreement on issues that they want the court to determine with the Fox Odoi team raising 14 issues while the Attorney General says 10 issues are the ones that require determination.

Among other grounds for the petition is that the complainants contend that the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 alters a 2014 Constitutional Court decision that nullified a similar law and is therefore inconsistent with Article 92 of the Constitution.

The petitioners also note that the Anti-Homosexuality Act, of 2023 was passed within a record period of six days instead of the 45 days provided for by the rules of Parliament.  

They say that the public was also not adequately consulted before the law was passed.

The Attorney General through an affidavit from Bugiri Member of Parliament Asuman Basalirwa, who moved the bill, wants the Anti-Homosexuality Law maintained on grounds that it does not discriminate against individuals but instead criminalizes sexual acts between persons of the same sex.

In 2014 the Constitutional Court struck down the Anti-Homosexuality Act on procedural grounds after finding that the Parliament had passed it without the required quorum.

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