Uganda : The Anti-Homosexuality Act Struck Down by the Constitutional Court

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On 1 August 2014, Uganda’s Constitutional Court declared the discriminatory Anti-homosexuality Act (AHA) illegal, since it was passed by Members of Parliament (MPs) without the requisite quorum. The Anti-homosexuality Bill was adopted by the Ugandan Parliament on 20 December 2013, and in spite of broad national and international criticism calling on President Museveni not to enact it into law, it was promulgated on 24 February 2014.

FIDH and its member organisations have been firmly denouncing the new legislation which institutionalises discrimination and encourages harassment and violence against LGBTI people, while also putting civil society activists at risk, as well as any organisation providing health, social and legal services to LGBTI people. This intervention is part of FIDH mobilisation for the respect and protection of the rights of LGBTI persons throughout the world, notably in Africa. In May 2014, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) adopted its first resolution aimed at providing protections against “[…]violence and other human rights violations targeting persons on the basis of their imputed or real sexual orientation or gender identity.” In March 2014, the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders of the ACHPR issued a strong press statement raising concerns over the consequences of the Anti-Homosexuality law on the respect for human rights in Uganda. She insisted in particular on the increasing feeling of insecurity among LGBTI persons and those defending their rights since the promulgation of the law and the publication in some newspapers of the names and photographs of persons considered as being homosexuals. Both positions echoed the concerns and recommendations formulated by FIDH with regard to the situation of the LGBTI community in this country.

While FIDH welcomes a decision which upholds the rule of law, it also underlines that the fight against discrimination and violence against LGBTI persons in Uganda is far from over : same-sex relations remain criminalised and punishable by imprisonment under the existing legislation. In addition, the state may appeal against the ruling of the Supreme court, and legislators may try to reintroduce anti-homosexuality measures. FIDH, together with its member and partner organisations in Uganda, will spare no effort to ensure that Uganda upholds its human rights obligations and that regional and international human rights mechanisms remain mobilised in the fight against discrimination, stigmatization and violence in this country.

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