NGO moves to repeal the Venereal Diseases Act

By Barbra Kabahumuza

CEHURD contends that the Venereal Diseases Act contravenes and is inconsistent with the Constitution

Aaaaaaabig 350x210

Human rights health advocates, Centre for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD), has petitioned the Constitutional Court seeking to repeal the 1977 Venereal Diseases Act saying it no longer addresses Health needs in society.

The NGO on Tuesday filed its petition against the government through the Attorney General, arguing that the law which requires a coerced medical examination, treatment, detention and criminalisation of a person diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease such as syphilis or gonorrhoea, violates several human rights.

The NGO believes in the protection of human rights and the rights of patients as enshrined in the Constitution and other international conventions to which Uganda ratified and is a signatory.

CEHURD in its petition faults the Uganda Law Reform Commission for failing to review the said law to ensure that it conforms to the present constitutional obligations where rights to privacy, treatment and free movement are respected.

The NGO has asked the court to compel the Uganda Law Reform Commission to revisit this law and make recommendations on whether to reform or repeal the Venereal Diseases Act.

It wants an order that the Uganda Law Reform Commission should within two years or such reasonable time as the court may deem fit, after passing the judgment.

CEHURD alleges that the Venereal Diseases Act contravenes and is inconsistent with the Constitution.

It further contends that the authorisation of treatment without informed consent contravenes the right to health.

CEHURD states that the provision for criminal offences based on a person’s health status in section 8 of the Venereal Diseases Act contravenes the right of freedom  from non-discrimination.

In an affidavit, Noor Nakibuuka Musisi states that the discrimination of a health condition is not an acceptable and justifiable limitation in a free and democratic society.

The Constitutional Court registrar has summoned the Attorney General to file a response to the petition within ten days.

“You are hereby required to file an answer within 10 days after the petition has been served on you,” he ordered.