Friday, August 01, 2014

Uganda's anti-gay law struck down by its court

J. Lester Feder of Buzzfeed is now reporting that the anti-gay law passed in Uganda has been struck down by its court.

Uganda’s Constitutional Court struck down the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act on Friday, giving new hope to the country’s embattled LGBT people and human rights activists

. . .  The court struck down the law on procedural grounds, saying it was invalid because there was no quorum in Parliament when the legislation was passed on December 20. (A quorum is the requirement that at least one third of members are present when a vote is held.) The court was ruling on a petition brought by a group of 10 human rights activists, legal scholars, and opposition politicians. The court did not rule on the underlying question of whether anti-LGBT laws violate basic human rights, and so the pre-existing sodomy code, which was imposed when Uganda was a British colony, remains in place. Two men are currently awaiting trial under this provision.

Naturally, the scene in the court was wild. Ugandan public figure and one of the most public proponents of the law, Martin (eat da poo poo) Ssempa was in the middle of much of it:

The courtroom became something of a circus during the three hour recess the judges called before issuing the ruling, according to people in the room. Anti-LGBT activist Pastor Martin Ssempa prayed loudly, and got into arguments with multiple petitioners. Security eventually approached Ssempa to request he sit down.

What comes next? Feder said Ugandan lgbt activists expect some sort of unfortunate retaliation from those who supported the law and they are bracing themselves for it.

He also said:

Human rights activists say they expect politicians like the bill’s sponsor, MP David Bahati, to try to pass it again, but they think the chances he’ll succeed are slim. Re-passing the law would require starting the legislative process from the beginning, including committee hearings and receiving certification of its financial impact from the finance ministry. If the government of President Yoweri Museveni does not want the bill to pass again, the finance ministry could silently kill the bill simply by withholding certification.

Read the story in its entirety courtesy of Buzzfeed.

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