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!
– Debunking the myths: Is Homosexuality, Bisexuality or Transsexualism Un-African or Unnatural?
– Debunking the myths: Is majority support of ‘Anti Same-See’ bill a democratic license to discriminate against sexual minorities?
– Homosexuality and the legalisation of Homophobia in Africa
– Nigerian and Ugandan Lawmakers: The Passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bills
– Freedom To Love For ALL: Homosexuality is Not Un-African!
Matt G says
So they did the right thing (legally) but not for the right reason (morally)?
Gregory in Seattle says
It was a technicality, but that is probably the best that could be expected: I have no doubt that the law will be repassed.
StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says
YES! Great to read good news for once. Thanks Yemisi Ilesanmi.
Yemisi Ilesanmi says
@Matt G -- I wouldn’t really say to follow letter of the law is always a ‘right’ thing, but in this case it’s the right thing to do. And I am actually surprised that the court did. It would be interesting to hear what the court has to say about the ‘morality’ or most importantly the constitutionality of the homophobic, biphobic and transphobic law, but it never got around to doing that. If the law is brought back or properly enacted (which i hope never happens), we might get to hear what the court has to say about human rights of LGBT Ugandans.
Yemisi Ilesanmi says
@Gregory in Seattle- I am actually surprise that the Ugandan court acknowledged the technicality error and used it to strike down the law. This takes guts, considering how popular the law was and the regional political interests involved. It takes time to appeal the decision in court or reintroduce the bill for passage in the parliament but whatever happens, it buys LGBT Ugandans time and also gives hope that the fight can be won.
Yemisi Ilesanmi says
@StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!- It is not often that i get to post about great news coming from Africa especially concerning LGBT Rights, so it was indeed great and refreshing to post this! 🙂
CaitieCat, getaway driver says
Wonderful news, even if temporary and for the ‘wrong’ reason.
Well that is fortunate. Huzzah for correct legal procedure!
@Yemisi Ilesanmi- You have often mentioned that the Ugandan leadership seem to have little concern for the rules, and simply follow their agenda. Do you think this marks a change in that trend?
Yemisi Ilesanmi says
@Meggamat -- I am cautious about calling it “a change in trend” Actually the Ugandan court has been known to rule in favour of LGBTs Ugandans before, a case that comes to mind is that of the notorious Red Pepper newspaper which published pictures of LGBT Ugandans on its front pages. The court ruled against the paper and even ordered it to pay damages to the victims.
However, in this particular case of annulment of the law, i share the scepticism of Ugandan activists who say it might be just another ploy of the master manipulator, President Museveni. The Ugandans have a term for this kind of ploy, they call it ‘political condom’. With The USA coming down heavily in sanctions against Uganda and the African leaders summit to be hosted by Obama, just round the corner,some think Museveni might have engineered this to appeal to the USA while at the same time telling homophobic Ugandans who wants the law that the court took it out of his hands, The view is that he will get his henchmen to reintroduce the law just before his next election is due. Remember thsi guy has been in power for more than 28 years, so he knows how to manipulate his constituency. Scapegoating LGBTs during elections is one card African politicians love to play. In all, Ugandan LGBTs have bought some time to refresh,and restrategise .
However it came, it is still a victory albeit one that needs to be built on. This post by an Ugandan LGBT activist sheds more light on this line of thought so does the opposing comment directly under the post. http://www.blackstarnews.com/global-politics/africa/annulling-ugandas-anti-gay-law-general-museveni-plays-political-condom-with