Anti-LGBT Law Struck Down in Uganda
Pathfinder International welcomes the ruling by Uganda’s Constitutional Court striking down the Anti-Homosexuality Act—a harsh and punitive law which called for a 14-year jail term for a first conviction, and life imprisonment for those convicted of “aggravated homosexuality.”
The petition was brought before the court by a group of human rights activists, legal scholars, and opposition politicians who argued that this and other anti-LGBT laws in Uganda violate basic human rights.
The Anti-Homosexuality Act was struck down by the Court on procedural grounds, not the merits of the law itself. The Court ruled that the Speaker of Parliament violated procedure by allowing a vote on the bill without a quorum of one-third of the Members of Parliament present. Since the Court did not rule on whether or not these laws violate human rights, the colonial-era law that criminalizes sex acts “against the order of nature” still remains in effect in Uganda.
“While this is a victory for human rights and gay rights activists, there is still work to be done. Homosexuality is outlawed in nearly 80 countries around the world—38 in Africa alone,” Purnima Mane, President and CEO of Pathfinder said in response to the law being struck down. “We must continue to work to protect the human rights of LGBT individuals and advocate for the repeal of discriminatory laws and policies.”
At Pathfinder, we are dedicated to inclusive programs that take into account the needs and interests of vulnerable, marginalized populations and the protection of human rights for everyone including the LGBT community.
In the lead up to and after its passage, Pathfinder and countless other organizations, including UNAIDS, raised concerns about the serious human rights and public health implications that would likely result from enactment of this harsh law. Unfortunately, in the five months since passage of this law, we have seen a number of those concerns proven true as LGBT individuals, even those suspected of being so, have faced public humiliation, violence, and persecution. Numerous studies also show that when LGBT individuals face discrimination, including abuse, incarceration, and prosecution, they are less likely to seek HIV testing, prevention, and treatment services.
“Pathfinder appreciates the vocal opposition that President Obama and his administration have expressed in response to the passage of anti-LGBT laws, and hope that next week, during the US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, DC, anti-LGBT discrimination will be on the agenda,” Mane commented.
We are pleased to join efforts with UNAIDS and all other governmental and civil society organizations working to support human rights in Uganda and around the world.
Purnima Mane, president and chief executive officer of Pathfinder International, told IPS, “We are delighted the final set of [proposed] SDGs contains four critical targets on SRHR: three under the health goal and one under the gender goal. But we have not reached the finish line yet. We must all continue to raise our voices to ensure these SRHR targets are intact when the final version is approved."
As the UN continues negotiations on a new set of Sustainable Development Goals for its post-2015 development agenda, population experts are hoping reproductive health will be given significant recognition in the final line-up of the goals later this year.