Uganda: Mixed Reactions Trail Court’s Refusal To Nullify Anti-Gay Laws

By Emmanuel Nduka

Ugandans are reacting differently after the country’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday upheld an anti-gay law that allows the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”.

The law in question defines “aggravated homosexuality” as cases of homosexual relations involving a minor and other categories of vulnerable people, or when the perpetrator is infected with HIV.

Sitting in Kampala, the Ugandan capital, the court rejected the petitioners’ request to quash the law despite widespread condemnation from rights groups and others abroad.

Heritage Times HT recalls that President Yoweri Museveni signed the bill which is supported by many into law in May last year, as the East African country sees it as behaviour imported from abroad and not a sexual orientation.

Constitutional Court judges said the law was legally passed by parliament and does not violate the constitution.

Under its colonial era law, homosexuality was already illegal in Uganda, and criminalizes the sexual activity “against the order of nature.”

The punishment for that offense is life imprisonment.

A suspect convicted of “attempted aggravated homosexuality” can be imprisoned for up to 14 years, and the offense of “attempted homosexuality” is punishable by up to 10 years.

The court, however, ruled that members of the gay community should not be discriminated against when seeking medication.

Uganda was one of the earliest and hardest hit countries when AIDS emerged, and public health experts have long warned against letting stigma or fear of punishment impede access to care.

Reacting in Kampala after the ruling, Ugandans expressed mixed feelings over the ruling.

While members of the LGBTQI community were quick to cast a dark shadow on the court’s decision, saying it will worsen their already desperate situation, those on the other divide commended the ruling.

Some lawyers for the petitioners said after the judgment that they will now turn to the Supreme Court, hoping it will overturn the law.

Out of 54 African countries, homosexuality is criminalized in more than 30, with very serious penalties.

 

Credit Gist New Today News in Newspaper Nigeria Headlines

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