What you need to know:
- The lawyer argues that, among others, Speaker Anita Among, who is supposed to be neutral, is biased in favour of passing the Bill.
Lawyer Male Mabirizi has asked court to quash the ongoing debate before Parliament in regards to the Anti-homosexual Bill 2023, citing bias by the Speaker.
In a case against Parliament, Parliamentary Commission and the Attorney General, filed before City Hall magistrate’s court yesterday, Mr Mabirizi argues that Speaker Anita Among, who is supposed to be neutral, is biased in favour of passing the Bill.
“An order nullifying or setting aside all proceedings, decisions and actions pursuant to and in relation to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023 be it passing, assent or commencement,” Mr Mabirizi states in the court documents.
He is also seeking an order restraining Parliament, the Parliamentary Commission, and the entire government from taking any further step in the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023, and, or from giving it or any process related to it any legal effect or validity.
Mr Mabirizi asserts that granting leave to a private member to introduce a Penal Bill closes out civic participation of citizens through government structures and in making of laws that affect them.
He further states that the Speaker’s alleged threats to civic organisations and foreign donors threatens the right to participate in activities to influence government through civic organisations.
“The Speaker stated that it is foreign countries which sponsor civic organisations that help homosexuals and said ‘to hell’ with those countries,” he further argues.
He adds: “The Speaker’s threats to MPs that whoever will vote against the Bill will be regarded as ‘homosexual’, hence a criminal, threatens citizens’ participation in affairs of government through their representatives and that the reason why the voting will be by tally is to expose those who are ‘homosexuals’.”
Mr Mabirizi argues that the actions of Parliament and the Speaker are not demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society.
Mr Mabirizi further states that actions of the respondents infringe upon, derogate and threaten him and other Ugandan citizens’ inherent human rights.
On March 1, Parliament granted Bugiri Municipality MP Asuman Basalirwa, leave to process the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023. The Bill seeks to prohibit same-sex relationships in Uganda.
The new Bill prescribes life imprisonment for persons who will be found guilty of aggravated homosexuality, and persons who attempt to commit homosexuality.
On Monday, Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee started hearing views from different stakeholders about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023.
The proposed law is, however, not entirely new as Mr Basalirwa intends to revisit and polish the contents of the Bill of 2014 that was quashed by the Constitutional Court.
On August 1, 2014, five justices of the Constitutional Court nullified the Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014 due to lack of quorum in Parliament on December 20, 2013, when it was passed.
They unanimously ruled that then Speaker Rebecca Kadaga did not first ascertain whether there was quorum before putting the issue to a vote.
Mr Basalirwa indicated that his Bill will, among others, incorporate some of the penalties that were catered for in the quashed Bill.