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Constitutional Court Sets Judgement Date For Anti-Homosexuality Law Petition.

By Culton Scovia Nakamya

The Constitutional Court is set to deliver its verdict in a case challenging the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

Considered repressive by rights activists, the law garnered significant support from members of parliament and was subsequently passed and assented to by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in May 2023.

The law imposes a death penalty for aggravated homosexuality and mandates life imprisonment upon conviction for same-sex acts. Additionally, it restricts journalists from reporting on the matter, citing the promotion of homosexuality, and criminalizes individuals who fail to report suspected homosexuality.

Human rights activists, civil society organizations, and lawyers sought the intervention of the Constitutional Court to repeal the law, citing gross violations of human rights. Four petitions were registered but consolidated into one. The petitioners include human rights activist Nicholas Opio, Makerere University Professors Busingye Kabumba and Sylvia Tamale, West Budama MP Fox Odoi, veteran journalist Andrew Mwenda, among others.

Fourteen (14) issues have been set aside for determination by the court. The petitioners argue that the law contradicts Article 92 of Uganda’s constitution and infringes on the rights and freedoms of others.

Since its enactment in May 2023, the law has faced international criticism, resulting in several sanctions. The United States imposed visa restrictions on legislators involved in supporting and enacting the law, including Speaker of Parliament Anitta Annet Among, Asuman Basaalirwa, the bill’s mover, among others.

In December 2023, the US Department of Treasury sanctioned Commissioner General of Prisons Johnson Byabashaija on allegations of torture against prisoners.

In January 2024, Uganda was formally eliminated from the list of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and declared ineligible to export commodities to the US duty-free market.

The Constitutional Court has notified the Attorney General and the petitioners of the long-awaited judgment. A panel of five judges, led by Deputy Chief Justice Richard Buteera, Geoffrey Kiryabwire, Muzamiru Kibeedi, Christopher Gashirabake, and Monica Mugenyi, will deliver judgment on Wednesday, April 3, 2024.

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