KAMPALA – Court of Appeal has on August 22, concurred with the decision taken by Uganda Registration Service Bureau (URSB) to block the registration of a gay activists company, bringing an end to the protracted battle that dates back in 2012.
The proprietors of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG); the group had sought to register their company in 2012 but the request was rejected by URSB on grounds that the name was undesirable and contravened laws in Uganda.
Taking to its twitter handle, gay activists described the court judgment as unfair stating;
“URSB blocks registration an unfair Uganda court ruling threatens the existence and work of Ugandan LGBTI organising. Uganda Registration Services Bureau refused registration of SMUG civil appeal 23 of 2018. We intend to appeal soon.”
The activists added, “The right to health is inalienable. How would government access hard to reach key populations in the run to ending HIV as a public health threat by 2030 now that they’ve refused to register our network sexual minorities Uganda is harmful.”
SMUG applied to URSB in November 2012 to register their company, which request was rejected in February 2015 on grounds that the name was undesirable and unregisterable because the proposed company was going to be formed to advocate for the rights and wellbeing of lesbians and gays persons which activities are labelled criminal acts under the penal code.
SMUG in its application listed several objectives the company was meant to undertake including, to carry out research and documentation of violations of fundamental rights of the LGBTI community in Uganda.
The Company also sought to promote the protection, wellbeing and dignity of LGBTI as well as combat discrimination in policy, law policy and practices.
The other objective was to provide security response and a safe place to members in case of a crisis as well as provide health care to LGBTI persons in Uganda.
In their suit, SMUG castigated the Registrar General for taking 18months to respond to their request an action the group described as unfair and unjust treatment.
The group also quashed URSB’s argument that the proposed company was going to promote behaviour not in line with Uganda’s laws arguing that the objectives of the proposed company do not include engaging in same-sex practices or encouraging people to do so.
URSB argued that the reservation of the name of the proposed company would only give green light to proposed company, an argument that was rejected by the lawyers of SMUG who responded describing URSB’s argument as absurd as it implies that anything done for the benefit of LGBTI persons would amount to incitement, promotion and conspiracy.
In the 2018 ruling, Judge Basaza Wasswa concurred with URSB he dismissed the application and ordered SMUG to pay costs of the lawsuit to URSB.
SMUG appealed the ruling in Court of Appeals which application they lost and their only hope is Supreme Court that would decide if URSB can register the company under that name or not in case the lawyers of gay rights activists proceed with the appeal.