Uganda’s constitutional court on Wednesday (Apr. 03) upheld an anti-homosexuality law which imposes penalties of up to life in prison for consensual same-sex relations.

The justices found that some sections of the bill which was signed into law in May last year violated the “right to health, privacy and freedom of religion”.

“The petitioners sought a myriad of remedies that essentially call for the nullification of the entire Anti-homosexuality Act 2023. Having held as we have in the body of the judgment, we decline to nullify the anti-homosexuality act 2023 in its entirety; neither would we grant a permanent injunction against its enforcement,” deputy Chief Justice of Uganda, Richard Buteera read.

The bill toughened up an existing British colonial-era law, under which gay sex was already illegal.

The law prescribes the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” which is defined as cases of sexual relations involving people infected with HIV as well as with minors and other categories of vulnerable people.

At the court session in Kamapala, petitioners against the law included human rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo.

“….The court essentially said that the law is justified in so far as it discriminates against LGBTQI people as far as it denies them a right to participate in the governance of this country, they said those restrictions are proportional and in doing so, the court relied on public sentiments, the court relied on what we call moral values of this society and the court by its decision simply endorsed the discrimination of LGBTQI individuals in this country.”

Another petitioner Andrew Mwenda vowed to refer to the Supreme Court: “What we have witnessed in court is what I would call a temporally reversal in an overall strategic battle or a strategic war against cultural bigotry and prejudice so we are going to appeal to the supreme court not for striking down the different components of this law but for overturning this law in its entirety.”

After the passign of the law Uganda came under extreme backlash and suffered sanctions.

MP Asuman Basalirwa who sponsored the legislation said he’d “champion the cause of going to the Arab world to look for donor support”.

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