Govt Stands Firm in Defense of Controversial Anti-LGBTQ Law in Court

The Attorney General (AG) has urged the Constitutional Court to dismiss the three petitions lodged against the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023, asserting that they are unfounded and lack merit. In an affidavit sworn by Bugiri MP Asuman Basalirwa, who was the mover of the Bill before its presidential assent, the AG responded to the petitions by explaining that the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 does not discriminate against individuals but rather criminalizes same-sex sexual acts.

Basalirwa clarified that Members of Parliament (MPs), as representatives of the people, had ample opportunity to participate in the legislative process prior to the enactment of the Bill. The affidavit stated, “The committee on legal and parliamentary affairs while considering the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023 interacted and received written and verbal submissions from thirty groups and individuals with varying views regarding the content of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023.”

Furthermore, Basalirwa emphasized that the Speaker of Parliament conducted the proceedings in a fair and impartial manner, allowing MPs to engage in debates and form independent opinions before deciding whether to vote in favor of passing the Bill. The affidavit stated, “The Speaker conducted the proceedings in parliamentary manner expected of the office of the Speaker with neutrality, devoid of biasness, and allowed the MPs to debate, form independent opinions before deciding on whether or not to vote in favor of passing of the Bill, and the petitioner shall be put to strict proof of anything otherwise.”

According to court documents, the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 deems sexual acts between individuals of the same sex to be contrary to objective principles XX1V (1) and various other human rights guaranteed under chapter four of the Constitution. The affidavit further states, “In furtherance of national objectives III (iii), XIV and XXIV (a), Parliament as an organ of government cannot condone or promote a tradition, custom, culture, or belief in Uganda that recognizes sexual acts between persons of the same sex, which acts are not protected under the laws of Uganda for being against public policy and moral fabric of recognized cultures, customs, and traditions.”

Basalirwa emphasized that the language used in the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 is clear, unambiguous, and purposeful, with well-defined offenses and corresponding punishments outlined in the Act.

The court documents also indicate that any non-governmental organizations promoting same-sex sexual practices are considered contrary to the norms and aspirations of Ugandans. “The respondent shall aver that there is no legal requirement for a private member to undertake prior consultation before moving parliament to present a private member’s bill to parliament and shall contend that the committee adopted a qualitative approach to carry out consultations,” the court documents state.

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