Court voids Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act

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Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. - PHOTO: Wikipedia

Uganda's Constitutional Court has ruled that the Anti-Homosexuality Act is "null and void" because not enough representatives were in the room for the vote when it was passed by Parliament in December 2013.

The measure had been put into force in March and led to a sharp increase in arbitrary arrests, police abuse and extortion against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Amnesty International, which documented the impact of the measure, said many people in Uganda lost their jobs, were left homeless and also forced to flee the country.

The human rights group said on Aug. 1 that the striking down of the act is a step toward stopping state-sponsored discrimination.

“Even though Uganda’s abominable Anti-Homosexuality Act was scrapped on the basis of a technicality, it is a significant victory for Ugandan activists who have campaigned against this law. Since it was first being floated in 2009, these activists have often put their safety on the line to ensure that Ugandan law upholds human rights principles,” said Sarah Jackson, Africa deputy regional director at Amnesty International.

“We now hope that this step forward translates into real improvements in the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people in Uganda, who have been trapped in a vicious circle of discrimination, threats, abuse and injustice for too long.”

Benjamin Bashein, acting executive director of ACRIA-AIDS Community Research Initiative of America, said, "ACRIA has seen first-hand how anti-gay laws, such as the one overturned in Uganda this morning, fuel homophobia, stigma, and the HIV epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. Uganda's law is devastating in how it punishes HIV-positive people with life in prison. As our recent research in the country has shown (see Huffington Post piece below), Uganda faces significant obstacles in addressing its HIV crisis, and this decision today is a step in the right direction."

Section 145 of Uganda's Penal Code, which criminalizes "carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature, remains in force and in the past has been used to persecute LGBT people.