Ugandan Court Strikes Down Anti-Gay Law on a Technicality

Protest against Uganda anti-gay legislation

Activists John Bosco, (handcuffs) and Bisi Alimi (sign) in prison uniforms protesting in London against anti-gay legislation in Uganda on December 10, 2012. Photo by Reporter#20299. Copyright Demotix

Uganda's Constitutional Court has overturned an anti-gay law, which punishes homosexual acts with life in prison in some cases, six months after it was signed by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

The court ruling did not address the content of law but only the procedure in which it was passed in parliament. This means the bill can be passed in parliament again. Homosexuality remains illegal in Uganda.

The law prompted Europe and the U.S. to cut some of the funding given to Uganda.

The law pushed a few liberal Ugandans, including Professor Joe Oloka-Onyango, Member Of Parliament Fox Odoi-Oywelowo, veteran journalist Andrew Mwenda, Professor Morris Ogenga Latigo, Dr. Paul Nsubuga Ssemugoma, LGBT activists and members of Sexual minorities Uganda, Jacqueline Kasha Nabagesera,  Julian Pepe Onziema, and Frank Mugisha, in March this year to file the case against the law in the Constitutional Court.

A panel led by deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma agreed with the petitioners on Aug. 1 that the law had been passed without quorum, hence nullifying it. The judges blamed the speaker of parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, for acting illegally. 

Members of the LGBTI community celebrated the court ruling on social media. Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda and LGBTI advocate Dr. Frank Mugisha tweeted shortly after the law was nullified:

@poniesinjudah congratulated the LGBTI community in Uganda:

@Sambannz suggested that not everyone who is against the law in Uganda can easily celebrate publicly:

However, not all Ugandans were happy. Pastor Martin Sempa, who pushed for the law, tweeted in reaction:

Andrew Kazibwe was against the court ruling:

People who are against this court ruling continue to promise that they will not give up until the law is fully passed. The Ndorwa West MP David Bahati who was the first to table the law in parliament promised that he is going to bring the law back.

Homosexuality is outlawed in 38 African countries and it can be punishable by death in Mauritania, Sudan, and northern Nigeria.


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