Wits Lawyers Seek to Join Ugandan Court Case on Anti-Homosexuality Act

President Yoweri Museveni has been the ruler of Uganda since 1986. He signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law in May 2023. Photo: Wikipedia user Graham Carlow (CC BY 2.0)

The Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) at Wits School of Law Seeks to Intervene in Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act Challenge”

CALS, based at the Wits School of Law, has applied to act as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the legal challenge against Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, a law that has garnered widespread criticism for its severity. The Act, signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni in May 2023, criminalizes “engaging in acts of homosexuality,” carrying sentences of up to life imprisonment.

Multiple petitions challenging the Act have been presented to Uganda’s Constitutional Court by individuals and human rights organizations, contending that the law was enacted without adequate public participation and violates numerous rights, including equality, non-discrimination, dignity, privacy, health, and association. These petitions argue that the Ugandan Parliament bypassed its own legislative procedures by fast-tracking the Act, which should have undergone 45 days of committee-level consideration but was instead pushed through in just 30 days.

CALS, represented by the Women’s Probono Initiative, seeks to join the proceedings, offering its expertise in constitutional issues regarding meaningful public participation and highlighting the profound human rights implications of the Act for the LGBTQ+ community. Dr. Sheena Justine Semmer, the head of the Gender Justice Programme, emphasized that meaningful public participation is rooted in international law, and Uganda, as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, is obligated to uphold this principle. CALS further cited relevant case law and practices, underscoring the importance of meaningful public participation in ensuring good governance, human dignity protection, and equitable treatment of marginalized communities.

The Attorney General is opposing the petitioners’ applications, asserting that the law aligns with the Constitution, international treaties, and declarations. The decision on CALS’ application to join the case is expected in early November.

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Busiinge Aggrey
Busiinge Aggrey
Business Aggrey" is a 23-year-old Ugandan journalist and Editor-in-Chief at The Black Examiner newspaper