Constitutional Court Petition launched in Uganda Challenging the Legality of the Anti-Homosexuality Act

A Coalition of more than 50 civil society organisations (Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law) advocating for non-discrimination in Uganda filed a petition at the Constitutional Court in Uganda on 11 March 2014.

The petition argues that: “the Anti-Homosexuality Act violates Ugandans’ Constitutionally guaranteed right to: privacy, to be free from discrimination, dignity, to be free from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, to the freedoms of expression, thought, assembly and association; to the presumption of innocence, and to the right to civic participation.”

The Anti-Homosexuality Act, which was signed into law by President Museveni on February 24, 2014. Since the signing of the Act, there have been a number of cases of violence and retaliation against people known or suspected to be gay, ranging from perfunctory evictions by many landlords of tenants, to the threat of violence by community members once the law is gazetted - a step which has not yet occurred: “We have documented ten cases of arrests of LGBTI andsuspected LGBTI persons since the law was passed by Parliament and more than three casesof evictions of tenants by landlords without following due process of the law,” according to Adrian Jjuuko of the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF), the ninth petitioner.

The Petitioners have also asked for a permanent injunction against media houses or any other organisations from publishing pictures, names, addresses or other details of LGBTI or suspected LGBTI persons, since such publications constitute a violation of the right to dignity, and an invasion of the right to privacy of the person. Since the signing of the Bill into law, The Red Pepper and Hello tabloids have published the pictures and names on an almost daily basis of Ugandans they are accusing of being gay. “We are hopeful that High Court will immediately prevent these publications from continuing to violate the rights of Ugandans to privacy—they have done extensive damage already. This is not legitimate speech—it is motivated purely by hate and by a drive to reap commercial gain,” said Jacqueline Kasha Nabagesera of Freedom and Roam Uganda and the sixth petitioner.

The filing of this petition and the challenge it raises for the Constitutional Court in Uganda is extremely important and the first such action by Ugandans themselves calling on the Ugandan government to review this homophobic law. This law has terrible implications not only for the already  marginalised LGBT community but also for male, female and transgender sex workers.

 

You can download the full press release by the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law below.