March 2, 2024

Court allows Pastor Martin Ssempa to defend anti-gay law

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The Constitutional Court has granted Pastor Martin Ssempa of Makerere Full Gospel Church the right to join the Attorney General in defending the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023.

Apparently, in his application presented by lawyer Gawaya Tegule, Pastor Ssempa sought permission to defend the law on moral and ethical grounds. However, the Attorney General, represented by Director of Civil Litigation Martin Mwambustya, initially refused Ssempa’s request, citing doubts about his motives.

Following the court’s decision, chaired by Justice Richard Buteera, deadlines for parties to file and serve responses have been set. The main petition challenging the law, which activists claim criminalizes “consensual sex among adults,” will be heard on Monday, December 18, 2023.

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However, the court dismissed a series of other applications from civil society organizations and individuals seeking “friend of the court” status, deeming their expertise unnecessary to the case.

In conclusion, two other applications were also successful. Family Life Network and UNAIDS were allowed to join as “friends of the court” to provide the court with information relevant to the law. UNAIDS argues that the law impedes HIV/AIDS prevention efforts by prohibiting healthcare workers from assisting LGBTQ+ individuals.

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