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Ugandan President Says Foreign Pressure Had 'Nothing To Do' With Striking Down Of Anti-Gay Law

MuseveniPresident Yoweri Museveni has denied that the recent court decision to scrap Uganda’s draconian anti-gay law had anything to do with the U.S.-Africa Summit taking place this week, reports the Mail & Guardian.

In the lead-up to this week’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, human rights groups had urged President Obama to discuss anti-gay discrimination in Uganda and other African countries. Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act last February, which penalizes same-sex relations with life imprisonment.

Museveni has said that the decision by Uganda’s constitutional court to overturn the country’s anti-gay legislation last Friday had “nothing to do” with the summit or with the sanctions placed on the country by the U.S.

However, saying he intends to take the issue to the country's Supreme Court, Christian evangelical pastor Martin Ssempa, who has campaigned to “kick sodomy out of Uganda”, described the court’s decision as a “judicial abortion” designed to polish Uganda’s reputation before the summit.

Under earlier legislation which is expected to return following the court’s decision, homosexuality in Uganda remains illegal and punishable by jail sentences.

 


Ugandan Court Tosses Out Country's Anti-Homosexuality Act

Ugandan court

A Ugandan court has invalidated the country's Anti-Homosexuality Bill, declaring it illegal because it was passed by parliament without quorum.

The AP reports:

The panel of five judges on the East African country's Constitutional Court said the speaker of parliament acted illegally when she allowed a vote on the measure despite at least three objections — including from the country's prime minister — over a lack of a quorum when the bill was passed on Dec. 20.

"The speaker was obliged to ensure that there was a quorum," the court said in its ruling. "We come to the conclusion that she acted illegally."

The ruling was made before a courtroom packed with Ugandans opposing or supporting the measure. Activists erupted in loud cheers after the court ruled the law is now "null and void."

With the procedural nature of the ruling, activists and petitioners were not able to argue that the anti-gay measure discriminated against LGBT Ugandans in violation of the country's constitution.

The AP adds:

Nicholas Opiyo, a Ugandan lawyer who was among the petitioners, welcomed the ruling but said there is still a missed opportunity to debate the substance of the law. "The ideal situation would have been to deal with the other issues of the law, to sort out this thing once and for all," Opiyo said.

A colonial-era law that criminalizes sex acts "against the order of nature," still remains in effect in Uganda, allowing for the continued arrests of alleged homosexual offenders, Opiyo said.

Opiyo also said he expects lawmakers will likely try to reintroduce a new anti-gay measure sometime in the future.


Here is Video of the Court Hearing Challenging Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Act: WATCH

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Yesterday we reported that Uganda's Constitutional Court heard a petition challenging the country's Anti-Homosexuality Act.

Uganda's NTV network reported on the proceedings and uploaded the segment to YouTube.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

The Guardian adds:

Judges have adjourned the hearings until Friday, when they are expected to rule on the quorum issue.

Ugandan state lawyers defended the law on Thursday, the second day of the hearings, asking judges to dismiss the petition. "There is no evidence about the quorum," state attorney Patricia Mutesa told the court in the capital, Kampala.

But prominent gay-rights activist Frank Mugisha, one of the petitioners, said he was optimistic that judges would rule in favour of scrapping the law. "I think that we could have a very good judgment tomorrow, and if we get that judgment then it's over – and we just have to celebrate," said Mugisha, who heads the Sexual Minorities Uganda group.

Anti-gay preacher Martin Ssempa, who was also in court, said he feared the "judicial abortion of our bill" due to international pressure.

Continue reading "Here is Video of the Court Hearing Challenging Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Act: WATCH" »


Uganda Court Hears Challenge to Anti-gay Law, Could Rule As Early As Tomorrow

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The Constitutional Court of Uganda opened arguments today on a challenge to the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act that was passed by the country’s parliament late last year and signed by President  Yoweri Museveni in February.

Speaking again with Towleroad, Richard Lusimbo with Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) said the arguments made against the law today centered on the controversial way the country’s parliament passed the bill without quorum – a constitutional requirement for any legislation to become law. After hearing the arguments, the court adjourned the case until tomorrow – with a possible ruling once the case resumes.

MuseveniTowleroad readers may recall that Ugandan President Museveni, who has a long history of spouting anti-LGBT comments, initially refused to sign the bill and accused parliament of lawlessly forcing it through after he recommended the law be shelved until the government could study it more clearly.

Buzzfeed adds:

If the court rules against the government, it would not be the first time that the Ugandan Constitutional Court has ruled in favor of LGBT rights. Trans activist Victor Mukasa successfully sued Uganda’s attorney general in 2006 for raiding his house while he was head of Sexual Minorities Uganda. Inspired by Mukasa’s victory, activist David Kato sued the now-defunct Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone over a series of articles outing LGBT people. Weeks after winning the case in 2011, Kato was bludgeoned to death.

The case comes as LGBT advocates renew pressure on President Obama to address LGBT rights in Africa. 


Barack Obama Must Raise LGBT Discrimination At U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit: READ

Human and gay rights activists are urging Barack Obama to discuss anti-gay discrimination at next week’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit with 50 African leaders, reports ABC News.

2_obamaThe Human Rights Campaign and Human Rights First issued a statement saying that the summit, with the theme “Investing in the Next Generation,” is a "once-in-a-generation moment" to promote equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Africans.

According to the two advocacy groups, 37 African countries have laws criminalizing LGBT relationships. Leaders of 32 of those countries - including Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, who signed harsh anti-gay laws earlier this year - have been invited to the summit.

In response to anti-gay laws, the U.S.government last month announced sanctions against Uganda including loss of funding and a ban on Ugandan citizens involved in human rights abuses entering the United States.

Shawn Gaylord, Human Rights First's advocacy counsel for LGBT rights said:

"We believe the U.S. can do more in both Nigeria and Uganda to ensure that U.S. funding is not being given to any institution or group that is abusing human rights, including actively discriminating against the LGBT community. We recognize that this is a difficult process with competing interests, made more difficult by the rhetoric espoused by some leaders that the movement for the rights of LGBT people is something invented in the West and being imposed upon African societies. "

Indicating that gay rights will be raised at the summit, Ned Price, a spokesman for the White House's National Security Council, said:

"The Obama Administration has long spoken out — including with our African partners — in support of universal human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. We expect the summit will provide an opportunity to continue these conversations."

Read Human Rights Campaign's report The State Of Human Rights For LGBT People In Africa, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Barack Obama Must Raise LGBT Discrimination At U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit: READ" »


Sweden Resumes Providing Financial Aid To Uganda

Embassy of Sweden in Kampala

Despite having previously rescinded financial aid to Uganda over their reprehensible and inhumane anti-gay laws, Sweden has relented and resumed providing aid to the African country. The Swedish embassy in Kampala says:

Sweden wants to help create better conditions in Uganda for sustainable economic growth and development. This is why Swedish aid to Uganda will remain substantial.

The Swedish embassy also said:

Sweden continues to support human rights and freedom from violence.

This will be an interesting feat to pull off given how Uganda's laws undermine human rights and freedom while encouraging violence.


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