I woke up to some exciting and progressive news today. Ugandan court strikes down the Anti-LGBT law that was passed earlier this year!
According to ABC News–
A Ugandan court on Friday invalidated an anti-gay bill signed into law earlier this year, saying it was illegally passed and is therefore unconstitutional.
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 over lack of a quorum.”
The court in its ruling said:
“The speaker was obliged to ensure that there was quorum,”
“We come to the conclusion that she acted illegally.”
Ugandan lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi, an attorney for the activists, said the ruling “upholds the rule of law and constitutionalism in Uganda.
Kosiya Kasibayo, a state attorney, said a decision had not been made on whether to appeal the ruling in the Supreme Court.
GAYSTARNEWS went with the headline Uganda court strikes down anti-gay law. It further states
Uganda has struck down one of the most draconian anti-gay laws in the world.
The law, which was overturned by the Constitutional Court moments ago (1 August), punished homosexuality with life in prison.
Petitioners called on the court to find that parliament passed the law without following proper procedure.
House Speaker Rebecca Kadaga ignored a quorum call by Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi when she moved the bill for a vote on 20 December. Without a quorum, the petitioners argue, the bill was not lawfully passed.
The judge agreed with petitioners there was no quorum when the Anti-Homosexuality Act was passed and said it was an ‘illegality’.
‘The illegal act of the Speaker tainted the process and rendered it a nullity,’ the judge said. The court also awarded petitioners 50% of the costs.
In April 2009, the Ugandan Parliament passed a resolution allowing Member of Parliament (MP) David Bahati to submit a private member’s bill in October to strengthen laws against homosexuality. The bill was proposed on 13 October 2009 by David Bahati.
According to its sponsor, it is based on the foundations of “strengthening the nation’s capacity to deal with emerging internal and external threats to the traditional heterosexual family“, that “same sex attraction is not an innate and immutable characteristic”, and “protect[ing] the cherished culture of the people of Uganda, legal, religious, and traditional family values of the people of Uganda against the attempts of sexual rights activists seeking to impose their values of sexual promiscuity on the people of Uganda”
The law was passed by lawmakers in December and enacted in February by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who said he wanted to deter Western groups from promoting homosexuality among African children.
Nigerian and Ugandan Lawmakers: The Passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bills provides a background to the passing of the bill.
The legalization of Homophobia in most African countries has created an environment of fear amongst African sexual minorities. However, a positive outcome of these proposed bills and legislation is that sexuality rights have been brought to the forefront for debates. Topics that were once thought to be taboos are now subjected to debate in the public arena although the debates have been one-sided for fear of a possible backlash.
Many countries in Africa still criminalize homosexuality; sodomy laws are still part of the criminal laws thereby making it ‘legally’ possible to persecute people with different sexual orientation. For example Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania and Ghana all have laws under which homosexuality can be prosecuted. In South Africa, where the constitution recognizes same sex relationships, gays and lesbians are often attacked, molested and persecuted for their sexual orientation.
Many African societies do not provide enabling environments to discuss sexual orientation issues. Homosexuality has been condemned by many African leaders as immoral, un-African and a ‘white man’s disease’.
Africa is a large continent with diverse cultures and ethnicities, however homophobia fuelled by religious intolerance and oppressive laws are remarkably similar issues most have in common. This was also addressed in my book “Freedom To Love For ALL: Homosexuality is Not-Un-African!
Although the law was overturned on a procedural technicality glitch and not on the basis that it violates human rights, it is still a big step forward for lgbt Ugandans and other African LGBTS. It is a step backward for the oppressors.This is an example of what solidarity, courage and speaking with one voice above self-interest can achieve. Kudos to Ugandans LGBTS!