Ugandan Court To Rule Wednesday On Anti-Gay Law

Uganda’s Constitutional Court will issue a momentous decision on Wednesday in a case challenging some of the world’s harshest anti-gay laws.

The bill was passed in May of last year, sparking uproar among rights activists, the United Nations, and Western countries.

The Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 punishes consenting same-sex relationships with up to life in jail and includes clauses making “aggravated homosexuality” a capital offense.

President Yoweri Museveni’s government has taken a strong stance, accusing the West of attempting to coerce Africa into accepting homosexuality.

The Constitutional Court in Kampala will release its decision at 10 a.m. (0700 GMT) on Wednesday, deputy registrar Susanne Okeny Anyala stated on Tuesday.

Two law professors from Makerere University in Kampala, as well as ruling party MPs and human rights advocates, filed the court case to repeal the statute.

They argue that it violates fundamental rights granted by Uganda’s constitution, such as freedom from discrimination and the right to privacy.

The petitioners further claim that it violates Uganda’s duties under international human rights law, particularly the United Nations Convention against Torture.

In issuing its long-awaited decision, the court will also decide whether the law was passed after adequate consultation with Ugandan residents, as required by the constitution.

West tries to ‘coerce us’

In August of last year, a 20-year-old man became the first Ugandan to face charges for “aggravated homosexuality” under the controversial statute.

He was charged with “unlawful sexual intercourse with a 41-year-old male adult,” a death penalty offense.

Uganda, a conservative, mostly Christian country in East Africa, is well-known for its anti-homosexuality policies.

It has defied demands from human rights organizations, the United Nations, and other countries to repeal the law.

The United States, which had threatened to shut off funding and investment to Kampala, placed visa bans on unnamed officials in December for violating human rights, including those of the LGBTQ community.

In August, the World Bank said that it will halt fresh loans to Uganda due to the law, which “fundamentally contradicts” the ideals advocated by the US-based institution.

Ugandan state minister for foreign affairs Henry Okello Oryem accused the West of attempting “to coerce us into accepting same-sex relationships using aid and loans” in December.

International donors cut money to Uganda in 2014 after Museveni signed a bill that sought to imprison homosexuals for life, which was eventually overturned.

However, the latest anti-gay legislation has received widespread support in the conservative country, with politicians defending the restrictions as a vital barrier against Western immorality.

A Ugandan court refused an LGBT rights group’s application for government registration last month, declaring that it wanted to promote “unlawful” activities.

The Court of Appeal ruled that any registration of the group Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) was contrary to public interest and national policy.

Written by PH

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