KAMPALA, UGANDA: A team of eleven (11) rights activists have petitioned the Constitutional Court seeking to block the implementation of the new Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023, barely a day after the Speaker of Parliament announced that President Museveni had assented to it.
The petitioners include veteran journalist Andrew Mwenda, Budama North East MP Fox Odoi-Oywelowo, former Makerere University lecturer of law Prof Sylvia Tamale, and Pan-African feminist activist Solome Nakaweesi, Makerere University senior lecturer of law Dr Busingye Kabumba and the National Coordinator of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) Dr Frank Mugisha.
Others are; the former executive director of Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) Jacqueline Nabagesera Kasha, Richard Smith Lusimbo, Eric Ndawula, William Apako and the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF).
In their multi-paged petition, the activists claim that the conduct of the Speaker of the 11th Parliament (Anita Among) during the 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.”
“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 culture and their immorality.
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.
“As Parliament of Uganda, we have heeded the concerns our people and legislated to protect the sanctity of the family,” Ms Among, one of the bill’s strongest proponents, said in a statement.
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 saying in a tweet; “It is a recipe for systematic violations of the rights of LGBT people & the wider population”.
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.