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Uganda court strikes down anti-gay law

Uganda court strikes down anti-gay law

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.

Pepe Julian Onziema, the trans advocate that was one of 10 human rights activists petitioning against the law, said he was ‘thrilled’ by the court’s judgment.

Nicholas Opiyo, a human rights lawyer in Uganda, said: ‘Justice has prevailed.’

Kasha Jacqueline, a lesbian and human rights advocate, said: ‘FINAL JUDGEMENT: I am no longer criminal. Today we have made history for generations to come. Speak OUT now.’

And Frank Mugisha, gay rights activist, simply said: ‘I am officially legal.’

Since the anti-gay law was passed five months ago, LGBTI rights activists have recorded instances of attempted lynchings, mob violence, blackmail, lost jobs, arrests, evictions, arsons, and suicides.

While there are concerns parliament could simply attempt to pass the law again, following proper parliament procedure, human rights activists will celebrate today.