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Uganda’s anti-gay law is struck down

08 August 2014

AP

Judgment: Chief Justice  Stephen Kavuma delivers the verdict at Uganda''s Constitutional court, on Friday of last week 

Judgment: Chief Justice  Stephen Kavuma delivers the verdict at Uganda''s Constitutional court, on Friday of last week&...

UGANDA'S contentious anti-gay law has been struck down by the country's Constitutional Court, just six months after it was enacted.

On Friday last week, the Court ruled that the law had been passed by MPs when parliament was not quorate - fewer than one-third of MPs were present.

The petition to annul the law was brought by a number of activists, journalists, MPs, and academics. The director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, Frank Mugisha, said: "We welcome this ruling and Uganda's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community can celebrate a small victory against oppression."

He warned, however, that the law had not been dismissed because of its provisions, but only on a technicality. The Anti-Homosexuality Act banned the "promotion" of homosexuality and would punish "aggravated homosexuality" with life imprisonment. Homosexual acts have been illegal in Uganda since it was a British colony.

The Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, the Most Revd Stanley Ntagali, said on Monday that he was disappointed that the law had been struck down.

"I appeal to all God-fearing people and all Ugandans to remain committed to the support against homosexuality," he said. "The 'court of public opinion' has clearly indicated its support for the Act, and we urge Parliament to consider voting again on the Bill with the proper quorum in place."

The Religion News Service has reported that the MP who authored the original Bill, David Bahati, has said that the Ugandan government will appeal to the Supreme Court over the decision to annul thelaw.

There was widespread criticism after Uganda's president of 28 years, Yoweri Museveni, signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act into law in February (News, 28 February).

Both the Archbishop of York, who was born in Uganda, and the Emeritus Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Desmond Tutu, have said that there was no justification for imprisoning people because of their sexual orientation.

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