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Court Upholds Decision Not to Register LGBT Group

Chief Justice Owiny Dollo

The Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal in which Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) had sought to be registered as a company limited by guarantee.

In 2012, Sexual Minorities Uganda applied to the Uganda Registration Services Bureau seeking to be registered as a company limited by guarantee so as to fully enjoy the benefits and obligations of a registered organization as stipulated in the Ugandan law.    

The Uganda Registration Service Bureau, which is the office of the government in charge of name reservation and registration of companies, denied the SMUG reservation of name on grounds that same sexual relations are criminalized under section 145 of the Penal Code act.    

URSB argued that its decision to reject the reservation of the activist’s name was an administrative decision by a public authority with sufficient remedies provided for under judicial review and therefore the company was to promote LGBTI which are criminal practices and beliefs contrary to the values of Ugandans.      

The trial Judge Basaza dismissed their claims and held that URSB was justified in its decision which was taken in public interest within the ambit of Article 43 of the Constitution. SMUG Uganda through Frank Mugisha, Dennis Wamala, Joanita Mary Ssenfuka filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal.  

They argued that the refusal by URBS to reserve its name and by extension the registration of the organization was a violation of its rights including; the right to freedom of association, expression, right to equal protection of the law, right to participate in peaceful activities to influence the policies or government through civic organization among others.

 It said all those rights are expressly protected in the constitution of the Republic of Uganda and accrue to everyone regardless of their status.

SMUG said the learned trial Judge erred in law and fact when she misinterpreted the Constitution and the law holding that the association for unlawful purposes and practices by LGBTI persons is prohibited.   The Court of Appeal delivered its decision d on Tuesday.

The Appeal was considered by a Panel of Justices comprised of Deputy Chief Justice Richard Buteera, Catherine Bamugemereire, and Christopher Gashirabake.   They dismissed the appeal agreeing with Uganda Registration Services Bureau saying it is not in doubt that Sexual Minorities Uganda is associated with the promotion and protection of the rights of LGBTI, which according to the laws cited are forbidden acts in Uganda.

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