Activists in the crowded court room reportedly cheered as the law was pronounced ‘null and void’. The BBC is reporting that the Constitutional Court in Uganda has annulled the anti-gay law.
The law, which was introduced this year, has been widely condemned by world leaders, including President Obama, who called it “odious.” The UK’s deputy PM Nick Clegg, said that the anti-gay law, was “abhorrent.” Many overseas aid givers had stopped payments over the laws.
The law, which included lesbians for the first time, could see anyone conducting same-sex relationships or promoting homosexuality facing life imprisonment. The gay community in Uganda has suffered huge harassment since the introduction of the anti-gay law, which was introduced by MP David Bahati and signed into law by the country’s president, Yoweri Museveni.
Commenting on the decision of Ugandan judges in the constitutional court that the Anti-Homosexuality Act is unlawful because it was passed by parliament without a quorum, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said, “This is a major victory for gay campaigners and their straight allies in Uganda. They fought this law and won, against all odds. Congratulations to the Ugandan gay and straight civil society coalition that brought this legal challenge. Human rights and the rule of law have prevailed against a homophobic, tyrannical parliament and president. The judges have shown commendable independence and integrity by upholding the law, despite majority government and public support for anti-gay legislation. It demonstrates that President Museveni may have nobbled many judges but not these ones.”
Dr. Dimitrina Petrova, executive director of the Equal Rights Trust, said, “We are delighted that the Supreme Court has struck down this pernicious legislation. The law violated many fundamental human rights of LGBT people in Uganda including the right to a private life, the right to dignity and the right to equality. We note that the legislation was found unconstitutional on procedural grounds rather than for its substance and so urge the government of Uganda not to attempt to re-enact the law. As we celebrate this victory, it is important to remember that LGBT people in Uganda continue to suffer profound discrimination and gross inequality, not least through the criminalization of same-sex sexual activity. We will continue to call for greater protection and respect for the rights of LGBT in Uganda, notwithstanding today’s decision.”
ERT has been lobbying the Ugandan Parliament and President Museveni on the Anti-Homosexuality Act and Uganda’s treatment of the LGBT community since 2009. After a detailed study of the then bill, the Equal Rights Trust produced a comprehensive legal analysis of the proposed law concluding that it violated not only a number of Uganda’s obligations under international human rights law but also the human rights protections within the constitution of Uganda itself. ERT made repeated calls both to the Parliament and to the President calling for the proposed law to be abandoned in 2009, 2011, 2013 and again in January 2014 before the bill’s assent.