Micheal Aboneka, a lawyer who sued Watoto Church in 2018 for setting stringent wedding rules, says they are unconstitutional and hinder people from getting married.
He articulates that the guidelines held by Ugandan churches such as a letter of consent (blessing) from the parents of the bride-to-be, a pastor’s endorsement of fitness for marriage, evidence of HIV status tested at one of the specified hospitals, and a counseling report, are not stipulated as requirements for marriage by law therefore illegal.
“When you are licensed to carry out certain things on behalf of the government, you are supposed to do them just as the government would have done. If the people are above 18 years, the couple has consent between each other, that is considered legal by the constitution,” Micheal explained.
A letter of consent from parents asked by the church is illegal and sometimes creates a hurdle for people who lost both parents or those not on good terms with them.
Nonetheless, he clarified that the suit is not a personal attack on Watoto Church but wants to challenge the rules in court to set a precedent for the guidelines of wedding people in places of worship.
“It is not about Watoto Church refusing to wed me, but it was the place I found with things I was questioning for years, and I was not willing to place the suit after providing the requirements. From the face of it, it was unconstitutional to me. I decided to challenge those things. It is not personal against Watoto,” he continued.
He also clarified that he is not seeking any legal compensation but needs the church to follow the laws rather than creating its own such as asking people for HIV status proof, couples may be willing to marry regardless of their status.
In addition, he said a member of the clergy interviews the bride and groom to be, to support or cancel their request for marriage, yet their decisions could be biased since they are made on personal approval.
The Constitutional Court has set September 19 to hear the case in the presence or absence of the Watoto Church lawyers.
The Fatboy show is hosted by James Onen aka Fatboy, Olive, and Sarah every weekday from 6 am to 10 am on RX Radio.