others ask court to block implementation of anti-gay law

Monday, May 30, 2023

Photo combo (L-R): Budama North East MP Fox Odoi-Oywelowo, former Makerere University lecturer of law Prof Sylvia Tamale and journalist Andrew Mwenda. PHOTOS/ FILE/ COURTESY  
Job

By Job Bwire

Daily Monitor

What you need to know:

  • Homosexuality was criminalised in Uganda under colonial laws, but there has never been a conviction for consensual same-sex activity since independence from Britain in 1962.
  • Asuman Basalirwa, the MP who sponsored the Bill, said aid cuts were expected and that Among, the parliament speaker, had already been informed her US visa had been revoked.

Hours after Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among announced Monday that President Museveni had signed the controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023 into law, 11 activists have petitioned the Constitutional Court seeking to block its implementation.

The petitioners who include former Makerere University lecturer of law Prof Sylvia Tamale, journalist and businessman Andrew Mwenda, Makerere University senior lecturer of law Dr Busingye Kabumba, Pan-African feminist activist Solome Nakaweesi and Budama North East MP Fox Odoi-Oywelowo, among others want court to issue a permanent injunction against the implementation of the law.

READ: Constitutional court petition challenging anti-homosexuality law 

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Other petitioners are Coordinator of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) Dr Frank Mugisha, former executive director of Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) Jacqueline Nabagesera Kasha, Richard Smith Lusimbo, Eric Ndawula, William Apako and Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF).

They claim that the conduct of the Speaker of the 11th Parliament (Anita Among) during debate and passing of the Bill amounted to bias and is inconsistent with and in contravention of Articles 20, 89 (1) and (2) of the Constitution.

They, among others also claim that the law institutionalises a culture of hatred and creates a class of social misfits, which is inconsistent with and in contravention of Articles 2 (1) & (2), 20, 24 and 44 (a) of the Constitution, and is therefore null and void in its entirety.

“Your humble petitioners pray for a permanent injunction restraining the respondent (Attorney General) and any of its agents from the implementation of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2023,” the petition filed on May 29 reads in part.
Their petition comes hours after the leaders of the Global Fund, UNAIDS and PEPFAR issued a joint statement condemning the law saying  Uganda’s progress on its HIV response is now in “grave jeopardy.”

READ: I’ll go to court if Museveni signs Anti-gay law – Mwenda

“The Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 will obstruct health education and the outreach that can help end AIDS as a public health threat. The stigma and discrimination associated with the passage of the Act has already led to reduced access to prevention as well as treatment services,” the joint statement by leaders of the Global Fund (Peter Sands), UNAIDS (Winnie Byanyima) and PEPFAR reads in part.

MPs had vowed to resist outside pressure over the Bill, which they cast as interference in an effort to protect Uganda’s national culture and values from Western immorality.

The UN Human Rights Office — whose commissioner Volker Turk in March described the Bill as “among the worst of its kind in the world” — condemned its passage into law.
“It is a recipe for systematic violations of the rights of LGBT people & the wider population,” it said on Twitter.

READ: Anti-gay law: Will Uganda withstand global backlash?

Ashwanee Budoo-Scholtz, Africa deputy director for Human Rights Watch, told AFP it was “discriminatory and is a step in the wrong direction for the protection of human rights for all people in Uganda”.

But the legislation enjoys broad public support in devout, majority Christian Uganda, which has pursued among the toughest anti-gay legislation in Africa where around 30 nations ban homosexuality.

“As Parliament of Uganda, we have heeded the concerns our people and legislated to protect the sanctity of family,” Ms Among, one of the Bill’s strongest proponents, said in a statement.
 

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