UGANDA – Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 has been signed into law; A petition challenging its constitutionality has been filed in response

On 29 May 2023, the Speaker of Parliament communicated publicly that President Yoweri Museveni had signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023 into law. By virtue of the President’s signature, the Bill became an Act of Parliament…. although the Act is not yet in force. Without an apparent date of commencement included in the Act, it will come into effect upon being published in the Gazette under Article 91(8) of the Constitution, as per the provisions of the Acts of Parliament Act, 2000.

Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023: the main clauses of the Act
An act to prohibit any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex; to prohibit the promotion or recognition of sexual relations between persons of the same sex; and for related matters.
The offence of homosexuality
Aggravated homosexuality
Punishment for child offender
Protection/assistance/payment of compensation to victim of homosexuality
Consent to sexual act no defence.

Related offences
Child grooming
Prohibition of marriage between persons of same sex
Promotion of homosexuality
Disqualification from employment upon conviction
Disclosure of sexual offences record
Duty to report acts of homosexuality
False sexual allegations
Rehabilitation of homosexual

Immediately after the signing was communicated, the legal team convened by the Legal Committee of the Convening for Equality, which is co-chaired by HRAPF (Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum), filed a constitutional challenge to the new act.…

The petitioners challenge the Act on three main grounds:

i) That the enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2023… without meaningful and adequate public participation is inconsistent with and in contravention of [a number of] Articles and Objective II (1) of… in the Constitution.

ii) That the conduct of the Speaker of the Parliament during the second and third readings of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023, on 21 March 2023, and the second and third readings of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023 on 2 May 2023, amounted to bias, and is inconsistent with and in contravention of Article 89(1) and (2) of the Constitution.

iii) That the provisions of the Act criminalising consensual same sex relations and those criminalising promotion of homosexuality violate a number of constitutional rights including: the right to equality and non-discrimination… ; the right to dignity… ; the right to liberty… ; the right to privacy… ; the right to health… ; the principle of legality under the right to a fair hearing… ; the right to property and privacy of property… ;  and the right to carry on any lawful occupation, trade or business – all guaranteed under [specified] Articles of the Constitution.

The petitioners called for a permanent injunction against the enforcement of the Act…. Under Article 137(3) of the Constitution, any person who alleges that an Act of Parliament is inconsistent with the Constitution may petition the Constitutional Court for interpretation and for redress…. The next steps are going to be serving the Attorney General with the petition, and then the Court will give directions on conferencing and hearing. The ball is therefore now firmly in the hands of the Court.

Adrian Jjuuko, LLD, Executive Director
Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF)
Kampala, Uganda