One Equal World

Ugandan LGBT Groups Celebrate, But the Fight for Equality is Far From Over

Posted on: August 14, 2014

International human rights communities around the world are celebrating the latest ruling by the Ugandan constitutional court that struck down a recently passed law that imposed lengthy jail sentences for both “attempted homosexuality” and “promotion of homosexuality.” The head of the United Nations called the decision a “step forward” and Amnesty International named the ruling a “significant victory.”

The original law was introduced earlier this year in Uganda and had been condemned by many world leaders, including President Obama, who called it “odious.” The law, which went into effect in February after being signed by President Yoweri Museveni, increased the punishment for homosexuality and made acts of “aggravated homosexuality” punishable with a life sentence in prison. Two men are still currently awaiting trial under these laws.

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The court struck down the archaic law because on procedural grounds, it was invalid with no quorum in Parliament when the legislation was passed on December 20th. Since the vote last year, there has been a 20-fold increase in incidents of anti-LGBT harassment, according to a study by Sexual Minorities Uganda.

“Many people are going to retaliate and attack community members,” said Kasha Jacqueline of the organization Freedom and Roam Uganda, another of the petitioners. “People are going to retaliate — not just the members of Parliament and anti-gay groups and religious leaders, but in the community as well.”

One present concern is that the ruling still leaves Ugandan politicians room to reintroduce the law or similar legislation if they have a full quorum present to pass it. “We now hope that this step forward translates into real improvements in the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people in Uganda, who have been trapped in a vicious circle of discrimination, threats, abuse and injustice for too long,” said Amnesty International.

Despite how the law was struck down on something of a legal technicality, it appears that the presence of a deeply homophobic community in Uganda remains, proving that the fight for social equality is far from over there.

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