On August 1, 2014 the Constitutional Court of Uganda declared the notorious Anti-Homosexuality law that was passed in February to be ‘null and void’. According to the court, the way this law was adopted was in violation of the Ugandan Constitution. This ruling is a major victory for the coalition of human rights organisations that has challenged the act in court since it was signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni.
The law was declared invalid because there were not enough MPs present to form a quorum when it was voted on in the Ugandan Parliament. The quorum requires that at least one third of the parliament should be present if a law is voted on.
Hivos has been in close contact with Ugandan LGBTI activists who challenged the law, supporting them in their legal battle. Our partner Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) was one of the initiators of the process.
Homosexual acts were already illegal in Uganda before the adoption of the Anti-Homosexuality law, but the law allowed for life imprisonment for “aggravated homosexuality”. It also threatened to ban organisations that ‘promote’ homosexuality. The Constitutional Court ruling of August 1, 2014, nullifies both the heavier penalties for those convicted of ‘homosexual activities’ and the ban on activities perceived as ‘promotion’ of homosexuality.
While it is very important that this law has been annulled, homosexual acts remain a crime under Uganda’s colonial-era sodomy laws, and rights activists continue to face abuses and threats. Just hours after the Court nullified the law, the government announced it would wait on the Attorney-General’s advice on whether to petition the Supreme Court over the court’s ruling. Hivos will continue to support Ugandan LGBTI activists in the struggle ahead.