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BIG STORY: Court Set To Start Hearing Petition Seeking To Throw Away The Anti-Gay Law

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Parliament of Uganda passed the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023, president Museveni first returned it to parliament first as he was not comfortable with a few sections of the bill after being advised by the Attorney General. These were rectified and the bill was sent back to president Museveni who later assented to it making it a law dubbed the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023.

The new law has since been received with two hands and excitement back home and across some sections of Africa and Asia but is widely condemned especially in the US and Europe. The US in particular is having sleepless nights over the law which they termed as barbaric since it spells doom for homosexuals, lesbians’ and queer communities in Uganda.

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In his strong worded statement after learning that the bill is now signed into law, US president Joe Biden warned of dire consequences should Uganda fail to repeal the harsh law against homosexuality. He threatened of tough sanctions, delisting Uganda from the lucrative AGOA trade forum and withdrawing huge funding from key Museveni’s government sectors of health, education, democracy, defense among others.

Indeed even before the year ends, Uganda has been delisted from the lucrative AGOA trade forums and president Museveni has since deployed his son-in-law Odrek Rwabwogo to plead with the US to re-instate Uganda back into the AGOA trade line which is a link to huge investments especially between Uganda and the US.

Another blow that came before the AGOA delisting was world bank suspending any further funding to Uganda. This came as a huge blow that prompted Museveni to verbally attack the world bank who he termed as hypocrites. Museveni government hugely depends of foreign funding with loans, grants and donations to cater for it’s very big government expenditure.

Blow by blow, the US secretary of state few weeks ago announced sanctions that would affect almost 400 Ugandan members of parliament for passing the Anti-Homosexuality bill and these may never step on the American land which many dream of. Blinken would later slap tough sanctions against the Uganda prisons boss Johnson Omuhunde Rwashote Byabashaija whom the US government accuses of taking part in violation of human rights.

Going by the look of things, more trouble looms for Uganda simply because it enacted the Anti-Homosexuality Act which comes with life imprisonment, a death penalty and huge fines for those involved or convicted on homosexuality-related cases.

Just like they did in 2014 after parliament had passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2013 earlier on December 21st 2013 and signed into law by president Museveni early in 2014, Andrew Mwenda, Fox Odoi who petitioned the constitutional court to quash the Anti-Homosexuality Act again did the same this time round and to have it shot down again.

The petitioned court sighting many reason why the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 signed by president Museveni should be quashed and instead government focuses on using the already existing laws to fight the vice which according to reports has since made it’s way to schools especially single sex schools, massage parlors, brothels, churches among other link up places including bars and hotels.

Andrew Mwenda, Fox Odoi and their fellow petitioners in August 2014 went home happy after the Steven Kavuma led constitutional court quashed the Anti-Homosexuality Act on grounds that parliament chaired by former Speaker Rebecca Kadaga failed to heed to calls of Ex prime Minister John Patrick Amama Mbabazi of the quorum required to pass laws in parliament. Indeed the excitement was cut short and the Attorney General lost the battle due to quorum related issues and the law was thrown out.

Since 2014, government had never made any attempts of returning it back to parliament until opposition legislator and JEEMA party president Asuman Basalirwa decided to table it back to parliament, surprisingly government supported it to the very end until president Museveni signed it into law.

The constitutional court is set to start hearing the petition today which was filed by West Budama MP Fox Odoi, Human rights lawyer and Chapter 4 boss Nicholas Opiyo, Veteran Journalist Andrew Mwenda, Makerere University law dons Sylvia Tamale and Busingye Kabumba along side several civil society organizations.

The controversial petition which was filed against the Attorney General on 29th May 2023 as the Key respondent on behalf of government is going to be heard by five justices led by Deputy Chief Justice Richard Buteera, Geofrey Kiryabwire, Musazimu Kibeedi, Monica Mugenyi and Christopher Gashirabake who will according to evidence and arguments presented before them decide whether the law stands or throw it away.

It remains a question whether Uganda will heed to external pressure and quash the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 or it will rather struggle financially and stand on it’s values and culture to keep it around, let’s watch as events unfold.

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