Uganda’s Constitutional Court will on Friday rule on whether Parliament had the requisite quorum to pass the anti-homosexuality bill into law.
The announcement was made by the acting Chief Justice Steven Kavuma on Thursday morning after hearing both the Petitioners and the Attorney General present their case before the court.
The petitioners represented by lawyers Caleb Alaka, Nicholas Opiyo and Laudislaus Rwakafuzi argued that parliament passed the act without having the requisite two-thirds majority of legislators and this violated provisions of the constitution.
The Attorney General’s office started and finished its defence today. Represented by Patricia Mutesi, the they argued that the petitioners had not proved to the court sufficiently that Parliament had no quorum to pass the bill into an act.
Mutesi says the official record for attendance was not presented to the court and also the Hansard, which the petitioners rely on, is a record of what was said in parliament and not the presence or absence of quorum.
Nicholas Opiyo, the petitioner’s lawyer said he is hopeful the judgement will go their way because the case impacts on many people in the country.
If tomorrow’s judgement goes in favour of the gay rights defenders, the law will be entirely struck down; however, if it goes in favour of the Attorney General, the court will open up to legal arguments on the issue of homosexuality.
The law first tabled in Parliament in 2009, was passed on December 20 last year amidst controversy over its necessity and the fact that it was passed without quorum. President Yoweri Museveni assented to it in February this year.
The bill originally proposed the death penalty for a category of offences called “aggravated homosexuality,” defined to include repeated sex among consenting adults as well as sex acts involving minors or a partner infected with HIV. But this clause was removed amidst international pressure. The Act sets life imprisonment as the maximum penalty and imposes a 14-year jail sentence for first-time homosexual offenders.