Saturday, August 02, 2014

Uganda's Constitutional Court Invalidates Anti-Gay Law Because of Lack of Parliamentary Quorum

Uganda's Constitutional Court yesterday struck down the controversial anti-homosexuality law passed by the country's Parliament last December and signed into law by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in February. The Court avoided the substantive constitutional issue, instead finding procedural defects in the bill's enactment. As reported by AP:
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 bill provided for punishment up to life in prison for engaging in homosexual relationships, and also called for prison terms for promoting homosexuality. The World Bank and some European countries have withheld aid because of the law.

According to BuzzFeed, the courtroom yesterday became something of a circus as anti-LGBT pastor Martin Ssempa prayed loudly and argued with petitioners in the case as those in the courtroom sat through a 3-hour recess that preceded the Court's handing down its decision.

It is not clear what the practical effect of the ruling will be. There have been no actual arrests under the law, but there has been a 20-fold increase in incidents of anti-LGBT harassment. Also a colonial-era law criminalizing sex acts "against the order of nature" was unaffected by yesterday's ruling.