Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana has proposed that couples who got married in the Church of the Resurrection, Bugolobi should conduct fresh ceremonies to legalize their marriages.
Last week, the Uganda Registration Services Bureau-URSB announced that nearly 1,000 couples whose marriages were conducted at the Church, under the Kampala Diocese of the Anglican Church between 2006 and 2016 were illegal because the Church had not been officially gazzetted to administer the ceremonies.
According to the Marriage Act, a couple can only be recognized as married after carrying out a marriage ceremony in licensed places and gazzetted institutions, and register their marriage certificates. This applies to all customary, Mohammedan or Muslim, Church and Civil marriages.
Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze advised that the government reverses the decision. She argues that it’s not tenable to nullify a wedding for a mistake that the couples knew nothing about. She says that the decision needs to be reconsidered adding that some men could take advantage of the loophole to leave their “wives”, yet marriage institutions need to be protected and supported.
However, Rukutana says that the only remedy is for the couples to repeat the marriage ceremonies because not all religious functions are necessarily legal. He advises the affected couples to repeat the ceremonies at licensed religious institutions or at the office of the Registrar of Marriages.
Rukutana downplays arguments that the decision will have lasting impacts on families that have lost their spouses and inheritance, arguing that naturally, marriage is terminated with death while children are all entitled to inheritance whether they are legitimate or not.
The Marriage Act provides that the Minister for Justice may license any place of worship for the celebration of marriages ” and may at any time cancel such license and in either case, he or she shall give notice thereof in the Gazette.”
Therefore, the affected couples according to the Marriage Act will have to fill and sign the Notice of Marriage, submit them to the registrar of marriages at the district and the notice shall be entered in Marriage Notice Book and a copy is pinned on the registrar’s office until he or she grants a certificate of marriage or until three months have elapsed.
Marriage must take place within three months after the date of the notice.