Ms. magazine  -- more than a magazine a movement

SIGN UP FOR MS. DIGEST, JOBS, NEWS AND ALERTS

FEMINIST WIRE NEWSBRIEFS

ABOUT
SEE CURRENT ISSUE
SHOP MS. STORE
MS. IN THE CLASSROOM
FEMINIST DAILY WIRE
FEMINIST RESOURCES
PRESS
JOBS AT MS.
READ BACK ISSUES
CONTACT
RSS (XML)
 
feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

August-01-14

Constitutional Court Invalidates Uganda's Anti-Gay Law

Uganda's Constitutional Court today struck down - on procedural grounds - a package of anti-gay policies signed into law this February by President Yoweri Museveni, but left room for lawmakers to attempt to pass the law, or another version of it, again.

Ten petitioners, including activists, academics, advocates, and MPs, challenged the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Act in court, claiming that it was passed improperly and violated the constitutional rights of Ugandans to live free from discrimination and with privacy and dignity. Although the five-judge panel ruled that the legislation was "null and void" because it had been passed illegally - without a proper quorum in the Parliament - the Court did not address the claims that it violated Uganda's constitution.

"The ideal situation would have been to deal with the other issues of the law, to sort this thing out once and for all," said Nicholas Opiyo, a Ugandan lawyer and one of the petitioners.

The decision was met with cheers in the courthouse. Frank Mugisha, a gay-rights activist Uganda, said the ruling was a "step forward."

The government has not yet determined whether it will appeal the ruling. The Anti-Homosexuality Act expanded the scope of a colonial-era law, still in place in Uganda, that criminalized "sex acts against the order of nature." The now defunct law included lesbians for the first time and implemented extreme punishments for anyone who engaged in "aggravated homosexuality" or "attempted to commit homosexuality." It also imposed punishments of imprisonment and fines on organizations that promoted or supported the LGBTQ community.

The court's ruling comes in advance of next week's US-Africa Summit in Washington. Activists and legislators from the United States had asked President Obama to speak out against anti-gay laws in Nigeria and Uganda at the Summit, which will be attended by Uganda's President. Several European countries and the United States restricted or ended aid programs with Uganda after the Anti-Homosexuality Act became law.

Uganda saw an increase in discrimination and violence against gay people directly after the Anti-Homosexuality Act was proposed. As reported by Jeanne Clark in "Unholy Alliance" in the Fall 2013 issue of Ms. magazine, David Kato, a leader of the gay rights movement in Uganda, was beaten to death shortly after the introduction of the bill. In addition, "The attacks against gays in the country have further demonized condom usage," Clark writes - a tragedy in a country where HIV prevalence rates for gay men, in the capital of Kampala, is at 13 percent. The bill has also interfered with HIV/AIDS programs. The AP reports that Ugandan police raided a US-funded HIV/AIDS clinic after the bill was passed.

Commenting on the Ugandan Court's decision,Michel Sidib, Executive Director of the UNAIDS, proclaimed, "This is a great day for social justice."

Media Resources: NPR 8/1/14; BBC News 8/1/14; Associated Press 8/1/14; ABC News 8/1/14; The Guardian 8/1/14; New York Times 8/1/14; Feminist Newswire 2/25/14; Ms. Magazine Fall 2013


© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

If you liked this story, consider making a tax-deductible donation to support Ms. magazine.

 

 

Send to a Friend
Their
Your
Comments
(optional)


More Feminist News

8/31/2015 Afghan Women Awarded for Women's Rights Advocacy - Ten Afghan women activists were awarded a prestigious prize and honor last week for their courageous fight for women's rights. . . .
 
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago. Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
 
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska. The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services. The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge. Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska. "By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read. "We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .