The lead advocates of the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2014 have vowed to challenge Justice Steven Kavuma’s Friday ruling at the Supreme Court.
Led by Makerere University’s One Love Church Pastor Martin Ssempa, the Anti-gay activists vowed to join the Attorney General in reversing today’s Constitutional Court ruling that the law which spells out tough penalties for homosexuality was null and void.
Passed by Parliament on December 20, the Antigay Bill was publicly signed into law in February by President Museveni amidst protests from local and international gay rights defenders and western countries.
There also followed a series of pronouncements of aid cuts to the country by a number Western democracies, asserting that the Act was in violation of basic human freedoms.
A few weeks after the signing, a group of ten lawyers led by Makerere University’s Prof Oloka Onyango, challenged the legislation in the Constitutional court, on grounds that parliament lacked quorum when it enacted it.
In his ruling today, Justice Kavuma observed that his court had been convinced by petitioners that Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, acted illegally when she put the Bill to vote well aware that the House was not adequately constituted.
“We have come to the conclusion that she (Kadaga) acted illegally. The act of the 9th Parliament to enact the AHA without quorum is in contravention of Articles 2(1), 88 and 94 of the constitution as well as Rule 32 of the Parliamentary rules of procedure and therefore null and void,” declared Justice Kavuma.
Rule 23 requires the speaker to ascertain by counting the number of MPs present if a question of quorum is raised, before the house proceeds to pass a law.
“The fact that she refused to entertain the question raised by PM Amama Mbabazi, and another member Hon Betty Aol, she acted illegality and tainted the enactment process,” he added.
Speaking to press immediately after the session, Pastor Martin Ssempa described the case proceeding as “strange,” before vowing to proceed with an appeal to the Supreme Court.
Describing Justice Kavuma as an “embarrassment”, Ssempa wondered why other “family-friendly judges like Justice Remmy Kasule had been left out of the bench.”
African cultural values
Parliament recently passed the controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill, criminalizing, outlawing and providing harsh jail terms for same sex relationships in the country.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009, a Private Members’ Bill, was first presented to Parliament by Hon. David Bahati (NRM, Ndorwa West) in October 2009. It was one of the pending bills not considered at the end of the 8th Parliament, but saved and re-introduced for consideration by the 9th Parliament.
Lawmakers say the law seeks to establish a comprehensive consolidated legislation to protect the traditional family by prohibiting any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex; and the promotion or recognition of such sexual relations in public institutions and other places through or with the support of any government entity in Uganda or any other nongovernmental organization inside or outside the country.
The Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs said in its Report, “The law aims at strengthening the nation’s capacity to deal with emerging internal and external threats to the traditional heterosexual family.”
The Committee also said that there is need to protect the children and youth of Uganda who are vulnerable to sexual abuse and deviations as a result of cultural changes, uncensored information technologies, parentless child development settings and increasing attempts by homosexuals to raise children in homosexual relationships through adoption and foster care.
The Anti Homosexuality Bill provides a fourteen year jail term for one convicted for the offence of homosexuality; and imprisonment for life for the offence of aggravated homosexuality.
A huge rally was held at Kololo ceremonial grounds in Kampala to thank President Museveni for resisting western pressure to sign the Bill into law.