Court to deliver judgment on controversial anti-gay law today

Lawyers Nicholas Opiyo (L) and Derrick Tukwasiibwe (C) interact with MP and petitioner against the anti-gay law, Fox-Odoi Oywelowo, at the Constitutional Court in Kampala on October 2, 2023. PHOTO/ABUBAKER LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • There were four anti-gay petitions of number 14, 15, 16 and 85 of 2023 filed before the court although they were later consolidated into one.

The Constitutional Court in Kampala is on April 3 expected to deliver its verdict on the controversial anti-gay law.

The court, in its judgment notices seen by Monitor- and sent out earlier today to concerned parties, said the much-awaited judgment will be handed down starting 10am.

“If no appearance is made on your behalf, by yourself/ your pleader or someone authorized by law to act for you, the judgment will be delivered in your absence,” a court judgment notice signed off by deputy registrar Susanne Okeny Anyala reads in part.

If the court agrees with the anti-gay petitioners, it will shoot down the Anti-homosexuality law, 2023, and on the contrary, it would uphold it with its existing tough punishments including death by hanging once found culpable for aggravated homosexuality.

There were four anti-gay petitions of number 14, 15, 16 and 85 of 2023 filed before the court although they were later consolidated into one.

The judgment notices have since been sent to various law firms that represented the petitioners like Delux Associated Advocates, Onyango & Co. Advocates, Human Rights Awareness & Promotion Forum, Thomas & Michael Advocates, Sage Advocates, Akampumuza & Co. Advocates, Taslaf Advocates, Magna Advocates, Elgon Advocates, and Tumukunde & Co. Advocates.

The chambers of the Attorney General as the sole respondent, too have been served.

On December 18 last year, Deputy Chief Justice Richard Buteera led a panel of five justices who reserved their judgment for a later date to allow them scrutinize the submissions by both the petitioners and the Attorney General.

Other judges were Geoffrey Kiryabwire, Muzamiru Kibeedi, Monica Mugenyi and Christopher Gashirabake.

Petitioners  including MP Fox Odoi  argued that Uganda’s anti-gay law alters the 2014 judgment of the same court that nullified a similar piece of legislation and therefore, inconsistent with article 92 of the constitution.

Further, the petitioners argue that the Act was passed within six days instead of the 45-day period provided for by parliament rules.

Equally, they argue that Parliament enacted the said controversial law without meaning and adequate public participation, which they claim is inconsistent and in contravention with articles 1, 2, 8A, 20, 36, 38, 79 and objective 11 (1) of the National Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy of the Constitution.

But the attorney general, who is the sole respondent in the four consolidated petitions, avers that the provisions for the anti-gay law are not inconsistent with or in contravention with the provisions of the Ugandan law, international treaties, covenants, and declarations.

The chief government legal adviser further insists that the act does not in any way alter the 2014 judgment of the Constitutional Court. 

He reasons that the annulment of the then anti-gay was based on the lack of quorum in Parliament and did not go into the substance of the legislation.

The attorney general also defends the gay legislation on grounds that Parliament passed it after the MPs conducting wide consultations with the public in form of written and oral memoranda.

About the law

The Anti- Homosexuality Act, 2023 prescribes tough penalties for various offences including participating in promotion, facilitation, and failure to report acts of homosexuality.

Penalties range from death for aggravated homosexuality to imprisonment not exceeding 20 years.

Ever since the assent to this piece of legislation by President Museveni mid-last year, there has been backlash from the Western world with some countries like America cutting aid to Uganda.

In June last year, President Museveni said that the anti-gay law that he assented to on May 26 last year, had been misinterpreted.

He clarified that the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 forbids recruitment by homosexuals of non-gay people into the practice of homosexuality, exhibitionism and promotion of sexual orientation, and performing homosexual sex on another person.

The President also dismissed claims that the law would inhibit medical care or access for homosexuals, who are likely to involuntarily go underground, as untrue because no provision prevents a health worker from treating any person.

Speaker of Parliament Anita Among said her attackers in the recent Parliament exhibition, an online campaign that was exposing corruption in the House, were homosexuals who were after her for saying no to practice in the country.


Petitioners in petition 14 include MP Fox Odoi, Frank Mugisha, Pepe Onziema, Jackline Kemigisha, Andrew Mwenda, Kintu Nyango, Jane Nasiimbwa, and Kwizera Linda Mutesi. Vs AG

Petitioners in petition number 15 are; Prof Sylvia Tamale, Andrew Mwenda, Dr Busingye Kabumba, Solome Nakaweesi, Kasha Jackline Nabagesera, Richard Smith Lusimbo, Eric Ndawura, Williams Apako and Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum VS AG.

Photo combo (L-R): Budama North East MP Fox Odoi-Oywelowo, former Makerere University lecturer of law Prof Sylvia Tamale and journalist Andrew Mwenda. PHOTOS/ FILE/ COURTESY  

Those in petition number 16 are Robert Rutaro, Musiime Alex Martin, Solomon Nabuyanda, and Let's Walk Uganda Ltd VS AG.

The petitioner in petition number 85 is; Bishop James Lubega Banda VS AG.