Ugandans Contest the Act Against  Homosexuality

Ugandans Contest the Act Against Homosexuality

Ugandans Contest the Act Against Homosexuality

The Anti-Homosexuality Act went into effect in May,  but Ugandan academics, attorneys,  journalists, human rights campaigners, and  religious leaders are actively contesting  it in court. Today marks the beginning of the last pretrial  phase of the case, which will soon  lead to trial.

One of the most severe anti-LGBT laws in the world, the Anti-Homosexuality Act, carries the death sentence for “serial offenders” and anybody  found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality,” which includes having same-sex intercourse with an elderly person, a child, or someone with a disability. Additionally, the ambiguously phrased “promotion of homosexuality” is illegal under  the statute.

This implies that everyone who fights for the rights of LGBT persons, including  human rights advocates and those who donate to such groups, might spend up to  20 years in prison.

The petitioners challenging the law correctly argue that it violates fundamental rights guaranteed in Uganda’s constitution, including freedom from discrimination and rights to privacy as well as freedom of thought, conscience, and belief.

Likewise, they correctly argue the Anti-Homosexuality Act contravenes Uganda’s commitments under international human rights law, including those in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Convention Against Torture, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Local organizations have noted an increase in anti-LGBT prejudice after the law was tabled as a bill in parliament in March. A coalition of LGBT rights organizations in Uganda, known as the Strategic  Response Team, released a report in September claiming that, due to their  perceived or  actual sexual orientation, LGBT people have faced “intensified violence and  discrimination,” including beatings, evictions, blackmail, sexual and psychological  abuse, job loss, and denial of access to healthcare.

Uganda’s Constitutional Court ruled in August 2014 that the 2013 Anti-Homosexuality Act was invalid due to procedural issues. However, a law has not yet been declared “discriminatory” by Ugandan courts based  on the merits of the law or on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

However, on the basis of human rights, several African nations, including South  Africa, Angola, Botswana, and Mauritius, have repealed legislation that made  consenting to same-sex behavior illegal.

Considering Uganda’s domestic and international human rights obligations, and bearing in mind these important regional rulings, upholding the fundamental rights of all Ugandans should be front and center for the court in hearing this challenge to the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

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