In a significant legal development, the High Court has outlined the regulations leading up to a pivotal hearing challenging the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2023.
The court’s directives stipulate that the Attorney General, the sole party responding to the petition, must create a shared scheduling memorandum. This document will succinctly outline the petition’s key facts, issues for resolution, and the authorities cited by both sides during the hearing.
Additionally, all parties involved are required to submit legal arguments on points of law. The Attorney General must furnish his summary of facts by September 19, with any rejoinder due by September 26.
Furthermore, on October 2 at 10 a.m., the court will convene for inter-party discussions. The outcomes of this session will be sent to the court’s head, who will then determine the next steps for a speedy resolution of the appeal/petition.
The petitioners argue that the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2023 contradicts a 2014 Constitutional Court decision that invalidated a similar law, alleging a breach of Article 92 of the Constitution.
They claim that the law was passed astonishingly swiftly, within just six days, instead of the stipulated 45-day period set by Parliament’s rules. According to the petitioners, this rapid enactment deprived Ugandans of their power and sovereignty, in violation of Constitutional Articles 1(1), (2), and (3).
Before the law was passed, Mr. Odoi, a former legal advisor to President Museveni, expressed strong opposition and even presented a minority report to Parliament. The pre-hearing for the petition occurred yesterday.
In his defense, the Attorney General stated, “The provisions of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2023, do not conflict with the Constitution, international treaties, covenants, conventions, and declarations.” He also asserted that the legislation does not alter the 2014 Constitutional Court decision, as it was based on procedural issues rather than the law’s substance.
Furthermore, he emphasized that the Act was passed after extensive consultations with the public and their representatives, involving written and oral memoranda.
The Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2023 imposes stringent penalties for various offenses related to homosexuality, including participating in, promoting, facilitating, and failing to report such acts. Penalties range from death for aggravated homosexuality to imprisonment for a maximum of 20 years.