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Ugandan Appeals Court Upholds Rejection of SMUG Name Registration

The name "Sexual Minorities of Uganda" is Undesirable.....

The Ugandan Court of Appeal in Kampala has delivered the long-awaited judgement in the appeal of the SMUG case. Court has upheld the decision of the High Court and maintained that the Registrar General of Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) was justified in rejecting the reservation of the name as the proposed entity sought to promote the promotion and protection of the rights of LGBTIQ which according to Ugandan law are prohibited, and the limitation of the rights of the affected people is within the acceptable limitations and in the public interest.

This appeal stems from a case HRAPF filed in 2016 acting for and on behalf of the promoters of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) represented by Frank Mugisha, Dennis Wamala and Joanita Warry Ssenfuka in the High Court against the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB). The case challenged the refusal by URSB to reserve the proposed name SMUG. The High Court in June 2018 upheld the refusal to reserve the name on the grounds that the proposed name was undesirable and against public policy and unlawful in light of s.145 of the Penal Code Act that criminalizes carnal knowledge against the order of nature. An appeal was preferred in the Court of Appeal. HRAPF has been handling the appeal on behalf of the appellants since 2018. 


The Court of Appeal, however, has agreed with the appellants that there was an inordinate delay on the part of URSB to communicate the decision to reject the application for reservation and also set aside the order for payment of court costs earlier ordered by the High Court against the appellants. 


SMUG and attorneys at HRAPF are exploring the way forward in consultation and with other stakeholders within the community, to decide on whether to appeal to the Supreme Court.


African Human rights Coalition stands in solidarity with SMUG and HRAPF in their fight for basic freedoms which are being denied in Uganda to include the freedom of association and assembly which is at the core of the struggle for the rights of sexual and gender minorities in Uganda and elsewhere. 


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Melanie Nathan, ED of AHRC is a Country Conditions Expert witness in the U.S. and Global Curts for LGBTQI+ asylum seekers from Uganda, Ghana, Angola, Senegal and other African Countries.


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