What you need to know:
- In May 2018, Mr Michael Aboneka sued the church, arguing that he was stranded after it imposed what he considered stringent conditions before he could be allowed to tie a knot on October 27 the same year.
The Constitutional Court has set September 19 to hear the case in which a lawyer sued Watoto Church four years ago for allegedly setting tough wedding rules.
“Take notice that the above matter has been fixed for hearing on September 19 at 9am... If no appearance is made on your behalf by yourself or someone by law authorised to act for you, the hearing will be held in your absence,” the hearing notice signed off by the registrar reads in part.
In May 2018, Mr Michael Aboneka sued the church, arguing that he was stranded after it imposed what he considered stringent conditions before he could be allowed to tie a knot on October 27 the same year.
Mr Aboneka listed a letter of consent (blessing) from the parents of the bride-to-be, a pastor’s endorsement of fitness for marriage, evidence of HIV status tested at one of the specified hospitals, and a counselling report, as some of the prohibitive conditions.
In his petition, the lawyer said he had booked for his wedding to be held at Watoto North, one of the Church’s branches, and that the conditions he was asked to meet were “harsh”, leaving him stranded.
“I am essentially distressed because the mandatory requirement of the letter of blessing from the bride’s parents or guardians, offends the right to free will and consent to marriage by the intending couples and is in contravention and inconsistent with Article 31 (1) & (3) of the Constitution,” he stated in the petition.
He also claimed the mandatory HIV testing and disclosure of results to third parties is an invasion of privacy while parents’ consent letter is discriminatory and undermines the dignity, freewill, interest and status of women contrary to Article 33 (4), 6 of the Constitution.
He now wants the court to restrain all churches and mosques from making same or similar mandatory requirements for marriage of intending couples who have attained majority age.
The petitioner is also seeking the Constitutional Court to annul all marriages conducted by Watoto under the restrictive conditions.
But the church has since argued that the guidelines ensure that the marriage institution is stable since a family is the foundation of society and its disintegration could lead to the collapse of the nation.
“The respondent denies that it forces any intending couple to comply with the above requirements as they have the choice to celebrate their marriage elsewhere,” the church states.
Ms Mariam Nakimenya, the church’s head of legal affairs, contended that for anyone to be considered their member, they must be in a home cell that meet once in a week for edification but upon crosschecking, Mr Aboneka and his bride-to-be were not in any.