Uganda Constitutional Court strikes down anti-gay law

[JURIST] Uganda's Constitutional Court in Kampala [official website] on Friday ruled to overturn their internationally scrutinized Anti-Homosexuality Act [text, PDF]. It is reported [The New York Times report] that the court's panel of five judges decided to strike down the anti-gay law because they believed it didn't properly pass through Parliament. The Anti-Homosexuality Act criminalizes all homosexual behavior and even provides the opportunity for courts to sentence Ugandanians to life in prison for certain actions. Ugandan Law Professor and Gay rights supporter Sylvia Tamale was happy with the courts ruling but also stated, "the court did not deal with the substantive issues that violate our rights." Currently, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni [official website] and major supporter of the anti-homosexuality law has not yet appealed the Constitutional Court's ruling.

The Ugandan anti-gay law's history has garnered international attention since it signed into law February, and many see it as a reaction to major legislative reforms in support of same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] in the US and other Western nations. Last November, a Ugandan religious leader bolstered [JURIST report] the law when it was still a bill. In February of that year Ugandan MP David Bahati announced that clauses mandating the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality" would be dropped [JURIST report] from the controversial bill. In 2010 US President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined the US Congress in denouncing the bill [JURIST report]. Roughly two-thirds [BBC report, map] of African nations criminalize homosexuality, according to an Amnesty International report published earlier this year.

 

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