Watoto church has defended its strictness and stance before one can be wedded from their place of worship.
Michael Aboneka last month sued Watoto Church Limited for imposing rules that he said violate fundamental human rights on wedding couples before endorsing their marriage.
According to the lawyer, the born again church asked him for 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 counselling report issued by the respective hospital before endorsing their union before he would be wedded in the church.
However, in their defence filed through Acadia Advocates, Watoto contends that the said guidelines were put in place to guide anyone intending to celebrate marriages at their church but not to stop stop them from doing so.
“Watoto as a Christian based organisation is organised, managed and run based on such beliefs, practices, rites, usages and teachings that represent and express the beliefs of its members as a member organisation of the Pentecostal assemblies of God,” says the church in an affidavit sworn by Julius Rwotlonyo, an associate team leader at Watoto.
“The requirements issued to a couple intending to celebrate a marriage at the respondent church are intended to enable the couple harmoniously celebrate their marriage with a firm Christian based foundation intended to facilitate the sustainability of the marriage and strengthening of the family institution.”
The church however says that the petitioner, Aboneka and his bride to be are not members of the church adding that a couple that subscribes to the beliefs, rites and usage of the church can be wedded irrespective of their HIV or health status.
They say that couples intending to wed are also advised to take other medical tests apart from HIV including sickle cell tests among others.
“The petitioner and his intended bride are not members with the respondent (Watoto) and have no merit to petition this court,” the church argues.
“If the intended couple has any concerns over any of the church’s requirements, they are always encouraged to discuss the same with the pastoral team for a consideration of a waiver.”
The church also contends that its marriages are held in accordance with the Marriage Act, adding that whoever feels unsatisfied with their requirements is free to seek services elsewhere.
“The law provides for other forms of marriage or marriage celebrated by other institutions whose practices are different from the respondent’s. The petitioner may either freely associate with it or decline to do so if the respondent’s requirements are not acceptable to him.”