Social Issues

Ugandan Constitutional Court evaluates lawsuit against controversial anti-LGBT law

Nairobi, Dec 18 (EFE). – Uganda’s Constitutional Court on Monday began evaluating a lawsuit filed against the controversial anti-LGBT law passed in May in the African country.

In a brief hearing in Kampala, a panel of five judges received written submissions from the plaintiffs and the Attorney General’s Office.

“Thank you all counsel for the parties, the court shall give its decision on notice,” said the head of the panel, Richard Buteera.

The plaintiffs – several civil society organizations, MP Fox Odoi and Uganda’s ambassador to South Africa, Kintu Nyango, among others – say the law violates the constitution and the right to equality and dignity.

“The court has an opportunity to decide whether the constitution of Uganda affords all Ugandans, including LGBT individuals, equal protection under the law,” Nicholas Opiyo, one of the petitioners’ lawyers, told the press.

The Prosecutor Office rejects this position, defending that the law protects traditional family values.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, passed the harsh Anti-Homosexuality Bill in May after months of debate in parliament, increasing repression against LGBT people.

The law imposes the death penalty or life imprisonment for certain same-sex acts, such as having sex with someone under the age of 18 or if someone is infected with a lifelong disease such as HIV.

It also includes penalties of up to 20 years in prison for “recruiting, promoting and financing” same-sex “activities,” and anyone convicted of “attempted aggravated homosexuality” faces 14 years in prison.

In August, a 20-year-old became the first to be charged with “aggravated homosexuality” after being accused of having unlawful sex with a 41-year-old.

The legislation has been sharply criticized by the United Nations, the European Union and the United States, as well as human rights organizations, and the World Bank announced after its passage that it would not provide new funds to the African country.

Museveni last month criticized the United States for withdrawing his country from a US program that provides preferential trade access to Africa in retaliation for the controversial law.

“I am told that some of the Arab Countries, have similar laws. Why don’t these actors put similar pressures, on them?” said the Ugandan president on a lengthy post on X (formerly Twitter).

In 2014, Ugandan lawmakers had already passed a bill calling for life imprisonment for homosexuals. However, the country’s Constitutional Court ultimately overturned the bill, which was condemned by many Western countries, after arguing that there was not a quorum for the vote in parliament.

Of the nearly seventy countries in the world that criminalize relations between people of the same sex, more than thirty are in Africa, where the majority of laws of this type are inherited from the colonial period. EFE

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