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Uganda: ILGA World and Pan Africa ILGA condemn Court ruling to uphold Anti-Homosexuality Act

“The decision to scrap only two sections of the law is nothing but window dressing,” the organisations said Read more Read less

ILGA World and Pan Africa ILGA strongly condemn the decision by Uganda’s Constitutional Court to uphold the brutally discriminatory Anti-Homosexuality Act, and urge authorities to repeal it in its entirety.

“It is nothing but window dressing to scrap just two sections of a law which otherwise reaches to the extreme end of state-sponsored homophobia, up to the point of imposing the death penalty for consensual same-sex sexual acts,” said Nate Brown and Julia Ehrt,  executive directors of Pan Africa ILGA and ILGA World respectively. “LGBTQ and gender-diverse people deserve equal treatment and equal rights under the law. States have an obligation to protect their citizens: by upholding this law, however, Uganda fails to meet human rights obligations.”

The Court nullified just two sections and two subsections of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which – as explained in the judgement – had “criminalised the letting of premises for use for homosexual purposes, the failure by anyone to report acts of homosexuality to the police for appropriate action, and the engagement in acts of homosexuality by anyone which results into the other persons contracting a terminal illness.”

“Under the guise of upholding the right to health and privacy, the ruling continues to disregard the rights of LGBTQ and gender-diverse people in Uganda”, said Ehrt.

We strongly urge the international community not to fall for this, and to speak up vehemently until this legislation is repealed in its entirety. Let us not forget what the Anti-Homosexuality Act continues to entail:  the death penalty for some consensual same-sex acts, the prohibition on freedom of expression related to the rights of LGBT persons, and the ban on human rights organisations that ‘normalise’ sexual and gender diversity – which are also barred from receiving funding,” Brown continued.

Since the enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act in May last year,  nearly 600 people have faced human rights violations and abuses based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBT and gender-diverse people have been subjected to eviction from their homes, and HIV response programmes have been jeopardised, amidst a wider crackdown on Uganda’s civil society.

Brown emphasised, “Unless this brutal legislation is repealed in its entirety, violence will continue, and hundreds of people will be mercilessly forced into hiding and excluded from contributing to society. These are not values that the people of Uganda stand for. Politicians and courts need to focus on the things that matter – ensuring a stable economy and the safety of vibrant communities — rather than attacking parts of the country and making them increasingly vulnerable.”

“We extend our solidarity to all LGBTQ and gender-diverse people in Uganda, as well as other criminalising countries, as they continue to fight against these discriminatory legislations. This Act sets as well a dangerous precedent and might inspire similar initiatives in neighbouring countries: instead of doing away with the colonial legacy of criminalisation of consensual same-sex sexual acts, it aggravates and solidifies that legacy,” Ehrt added.

In addition to advocating for the immediate repeal of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, Pan Africa ILGA and ILGA World recognise the importance of supporting Ugandan organisations and activists in their efforts to promote equality and human rights.

This strategy should include ways to reduce the impact of the law on the LGBTQ community,  efforts to engage with key stakeholders, including government officials and civil society organisations, and prioritise support for grassroots initiatives and reforms that uphold the rights and dignity of all individuals, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity.