John M. Becker

Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Law Struck Down

Filed By John M. Becker | August 01, 2014 8:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Africa, Anti-Homosexuality Bill, Frank Mugisha, Rebecca Kadaga, Uganda, Uganda anti-gay bill

Uganda.jpgA court in Uganda has struck down the country's infamous and draconian Anti-Homosexuality Law today on a technicality, voiding the measure because Speaker Rebecca Kadaga pushed the bill through during a session that lacked a quorum.

The Associated Press reports:

The panel of five judges on the East African country's Constitutional Court said the speaker of parliament acted illegally when she allowed a vote on the measure despite at least three objections -- including from the country's prime minister -- over a lack of a quorum when the bill was passed on Dec. 20.

"The speaker was obliged to ensure that there was a quorum," the court said in its ruling. "We come to the conclusion that she acted illegally." The ruling was made before a courtroom packed with Ugandans opposing or supporting the measure. Activists erupted in loud cheers after the court ruled the law is now "null and void."...

Lawyers and activists challenged the anti-gay law after it was enacted in February on the grounds that it was illegally passed and that it violated certain rights guaranteed in Uganda's constitution.

The court ruled Friday that the activists' entire petition had been disposed of since the law was illegally passed in the first place. This means there will be no further hearings about the activists' argument that the anti-gay measure discriminated against some Ugandans in violation of the country's constitution.

Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi, an attorney for the LGBT advocates who challenged the measure, said that today's ruling "upholds the rule of law and constitutionalism in Uganda;" activist Frank Mugisha said that while he was worried about possible retaliation, the decision represents a "step forward" for LGBT Ugandans.

The government now must decide whether to appeal the Constitutional Court's decision to the country's Supreme Court; legislators may also try to reintroduce and pass a similar measure. In the meantime, a colonial-era law criminalizing sex acts that go "against the order of nature" is still in place, meaning gay people are still at risk of arrest.


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