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Govt responds to pro-gay petition

In its defence filed in the Constitutional court yesterday, government rejected claims that the Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA) contravenes the Constitution of Uganda.

Denis Bireije, the Commissioner of Civil Litigation, said the offences created under the AHA are well defined and unambiguous, adding that they satisfy the principle of legality as envisaged by Article 28(12) of the Constitution.

“The spirit of the Act is not inconsistent with and in contravention of objectives 111, V, XIV, of the state policy, Articles 2 (1) & (2), 8 (A), 24 and 44(a) of the Constitution,” Bireije said.

The government is battling a petition against the law, which was filed by 10 Ugandans, including Law Professor Joe Oloka-Onyango, MP Fox Odoi, veteran politician Morris Ogenga Latigo and media entrepreneur Andrew Mwenda.

The petitioners claim the law is “unconstitutional “and “draconian”.

They contend that the Act discriminates against gay people. Bireije dismisses the petitioners’ other charge that the law was passed without quorum. He said petitioners will be put to task to provide proof.

The government argues that by imposing a penalty on the offence of attempted aggravated homosexuality, it’s not in contravention of rights and freedoms guaranteed under Articles 2(1), 2, 21, 24 and 44 of the Constitution.

Bireije contends that it’s constitutional to subject persons charged with aggravated homosexuality to a compulsory HIV test. The petitioners argue that compulsory HIV tests on gay people is inconsistent with articles 2 (1) & (2), 21, 24, 27, 28, 44 and 45 of the constitution.

Though the petitioners contend that it is wrong for the Act to impose a maximum life sentence for a person convicted of engaging in homosexuality, the government insists that the said punishment does not in any way contravene the right to equality and freedom from cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment guaranteed under the constitution.

The government wants court to dismiss the petition. Court is yet to fix the date for hearing of the case.

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