Jump to navigation


Anti-gay law has its days in court

Judges refuse to suspend an anti-LGBT bill but void some provisions inconsistent with human rights

Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Act will have at least one more round in court, and is set to move to the supreme court after the constitutional court upheld the law but struck down some of its provisions.

The court struck down sections of the bill that restricted healthcare access for LGBT people, criminalised renting property to LGBT people, and created an obligation to report alleged acts of homosexuality. However, it deemed that the law was compliant with the constitution.

A group of over 20 petitioners had challenged the bill at the constitutional court, arguing that it breached human rights and freedoms that are guaranteed by the national constitution.

The bill has been strongly criticised by the international community, led by the United States and the European Union, with the World Bank moving last August to suspend new loans to Uganda. For its part, the International Monetary Fund warned last month that the bill could jeopardise the availability of external grants and loans.

Ghana, by contrast, has so far avoided such financial threats despite passing its own anti-gay law (Dispatches 2/5/23, Presidents face growing pressure on draconian anti-gay laws).

There is a precedent for the courts striking down anti-gay legislation. The constitutional court threw out a 2014 law on the grounds that parliament had not had the necessary quorum when it was passed. Despite the government's protestations, the bill was never re-opened. Uganda's penal code already criminalises homosexual relations with the threat of a life term in prison but this is rarely enforced (AC Vol 64 No 6, Doubling down on anti-gay bill). 

Under the law, people found guilty of the offense of homosexuality could be jailed for up to 10 years, while those found guilty of promotion of homosexuality could face a five-year prison term. The law also declares all same-sex conduct to be nonconsensual. The new law contains clauses that making what it describes as 'aggravated homosexuality' a capital offence.

Related Articles

Doubling down on anti-gay bill

Uganda's parliament is set to pass a new law that criminalises identifying as gay, lesbian or transgender, same sex marriage, and the promotion of homosexuality.

Mbabazi on the ropes

The President’s manoeuvres to oust his erstwhile friend as Secretary General of the NRM are accelerating

President Yoweri Museveni aims to limit possible leadership challenges from within the governing National Resistance Movement through wide-ranging changes to the party’s cons...

Coup calls

If President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni had wanted to push the dissident young members of parliament in his party back into line with talk of a military coup, he must be disappointed. ...

Don't praise the lord

Kony's northern rebels expose the ruling army's faults but Operation Iron Fist fails to defeat them

If it was the last kick of a dying horse, it was a powerful one. At daybreak on 5 August, a group of Lord's Resistance Army rebels led by Joseph Kony attacked a refugee camp at Aco...