Constitutional Court Upholds Anti-Homosexuality Law with Amendments

In a significant legal development, the Constitutional Court has upheld the anti-gay legislation in Uganda, while simultaneously making critical amendments in a landmark ruling on Wednesday.

The court’s panel of five justices delivered a verdict that nullified certain provisions of the Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA) that hindered access to health services and relieved property owners of criminal responsibility. However, it upheld the law’s prohibition on advocacy, activism, and organizing LGBTI campaigns.

The contentious law, particularly in Section 9, previously held property owners accountable if they rented out premises to individuals engaging in activities deemed criminal under the AHA.

Although hopes were high among petitioners, including MP Fox Odoi, journalist Andrew Mwenda, and human rights activists, the court’s decision stopped short of overturning the entire anti-gay law, similar to a previous ruling nullifying a similar law in 2014.

President Museveni’s assent to the AHA in 2023 triggered Western sanctions, prompting heated debates over its clauses, including one imposing the death penalty for aggravated homosexuality.

In June of the same year, President Museveni clarified the law’s interpretation, stating that it targeted recruitment into homosexuality, exhibitionism, and promotion of sexual orientation, rather than merely identifying as LGBTQ+.

The court’s ruling left petitioners with mixed feelings, with Mwenda expressing disappointment and vowing to appeal to the Supreme Court. Despite the partial victory, concerns persist over the continued existence of the death penalty clause and its implications.

While the ruling may not fully satisfy LGBT rights advocates and international donors, it underscores ongoing debates surrounding human rights and legal frameworks in Uganda.

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