‘Kadaga ignored Mbabazi’s warning on passing gays Bill without quorum’

Pastor Martin Ssempa (L) of the Makerere Community Church speaks to gay-rights activist Jacqueline Kasha at the Constitutional Court yesterday. PHOTO BY FAISWAL KASIRYE

What you need to know:

Pro-gay activists want the Constitutional Court to issue permanent orders staying the operationality of the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

KAMPALA- The Speaker of Parliament ignored the Prime Minister’s caution against passing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law without quorum, a lawyer representing pro-gay activists told the Constitutional Court yesterday.

Mr Nicholas Opiyo told court that Speaker Rebecca Kadaga ignored a warning raised by the leader of government business in Parliament Amama Mbabazi on December 20 last year and passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law without the required two-thirds of MPs present in the House to vote on any matter.

The case in which a group of pro-gay activists sued the Attorney General (AG) challenging the passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law, is being heard by a panel of five judges led by acting Chief Justice Steven Kavuma.

The other judges on the panel are justices Augustine Nshimye, Eldad Mwangusya, Solomy Balungi Bossa and Rubby Aweri Opio.

“You should be very careful if you are to pass this Bill, you must have quorum. These are not joking matters,” Mr Opiyo quoted the Prime Minister as saying to the Speaker of Parliament.

Mr Opiyo further quoted the Prime Minister: “I would like to see quorum in the House before passing this Bill.”

He argued that Ms Kadaga violated the Rules of Procedure of Parliament and the Constitution.
Another lawyer representing pro-gay activists, Mr Caleb Alaka, accused Ms Kadaga of not minding to check whether there was the right quorum to pass the Bill into law despite being alerted about the lack of the same.

Mr Alaka added that another MP during the voting process, whose name he did not mention, shouted that they should go ahead and pass the Bill into law, saying after all they had passed other Bills into law without the recommended quorum.

Mr Alaka submitted that the AG, through the affidavit of Mr Denis Bireije, the commissioner of Civil Litigation has not challenged the issue of quorum, literally meaning that they have conceded.

In the circumstances, Mr Alaka asked the court to allow their petition and among others, declare that the Anti-Homosexuality Act was passed without the right quorum, hence its null and void.

The AG through Ms Patricia Muteesi is expected today to make his defence to the submissions made by the lawyers of the petitioners.

The pro-gay activists, among others, want court to issue permanent orders staying the operationality of the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

They also want court to permanently stay the gazetting of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014 which has not yet been gazetted.

President Museveni on February 24 publically assented to the Anti-homosexuality Bill becoming law.

According to the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2014, a person who purports to contract a marriage with another person of the same sex, commits the offence of homosexuality and shall be liable, on conviction, to imprisonment for life.

The passing of the Anti-gay Act has attracted a lot of criticism from Western countries, with some cutting aid to Uganda on grounds that criminalising same sex relationships, promotes stigma and discrimination against homosexuals.