Ugandan Court Invalidates Anti-Homosexuality Act
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today said that the Ugandan court decision to overturn the discriminatory Anti-Homosexuality act on procedural grounds is a major victory for the rule of law and will advance the protection of the human rights of Uganda’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Uganda’s Constitutional Court ruled today that the Anti-Homosexuality Act is invalid because it was passed during a parliamentary session that lacked a quorum. The case to overturn the law was brought forward by a group of LGBT activists and civil society groups working to promote equality for all Ugandans.
“A ruling at this level represents an historic moment in the fight for the rights of LGBT people in Uganda, and we hope it will serve as an example for other countries in Africa and worldwide,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “e are deeply impressed with the hard work and dedication of our Ugandan colleagues who put their own lives at risk to seek justice for all. As the law is invalidated, we urge the Obama Administration to stay in close contact with the Ugandan government and civil society leaders to develop a plan for rolling back the sanctions it recently imposed as appropriate.”
The Anti-Homosexuality Act was struck down today by a panel of five judges who ruled that the speaker of parliament violated procedure by allowing a vote on the bill without a quorum of one-third of the members of parliament present. The court’s ruling affirmed the view of legal scholars and opposition activists that the Anti-Homosexuality Act was invalid on procedural grounds. Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act was enacted in February 2014, calling for life imprisonment for “aggravated homosexuality,” defined as a homosexual act where one of the partners is infected with HIV, sex with minors or the disabled, and as repeated sexual offenses among consenting adults, and includes a provision which makes conducting a same-sex marriage ceremony punishable by seven years in prison.
According to a report issued by Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) incidents of violence against LGBT people and reports of Ugandans fleeing the country have increased significantly since the passage of this law. In the first four months since the bill was passed by Ugandan Parliament, 162 cases of violence and discrimination were documented within the country.
While the Constitutional Court’s ruling is a welcome blow to rising homophobia, the international community must urge the Ugandan government to protect members of the LGBT community from the inevitable backlash. Human Rights First continues to urge the United States to demonstrate leadership on the rights of LGBT people worldwide by working to stop passage of further discriminatory laws and promote the protection of LGBT rights as human rights worldwide. Human Rights First’s African Voices for Equality Map details some of the brave leaders who are standing up for equality and dignity for all people.