In a huge win for LGBT rights in Uganda, the Ugandan Constitutional Court has struck down an anti-homosexuality law that made homosexuality illegal and punishable by life in prison. The horrific law, which was passed five months ago, also banned the promotion of homosexuality and forced Ugandan citizens to report any homosexuality to the authorities.
Now, the court has ruled the law invalid on the basis that not enough members of parliament were present when the vote was taken. The Ugandan LGBT activist Frank Mugisha tweeted after the court's ruling:
Breaking news , I am officially legal . The constitutional court in Uganda has declared anti homosexuality law 2014 null and void— Dr. Frank Mugisha (@frankmugisha) August 1, 2014
Still in celebration mood safely made it out of court amidst crowd of journalists & demos' by anti gay groups - UG anti gay law nullified— Dr. Frank Mugisha (@frankmugisha) August 1, 2014
Although the ruling is welcome progress for LGBT rights in Uganda, the country remains a fiercely conservative place and many activists remain concerned about a violent backlash following the law's annulment. There is also the possibility that anti-LGBT campaigners will attempt to pass the law again, but there is doubt as to whether such a move would prove successful.
The law was struck down with such speed that some observers have speculated that Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni may have been directly involved – not necessarily owing to a newfound tolerance of homosexuality, but because Uganda had seen foreign aid cut dramatically since the law passed in February. The annulment of the law will see those funding avenues potentially reopened.
Activists in Uganda now face a struggle to overturn bigoted attitudes towards homosexuality, but at least from today onwards, loving who you want is legal.
Follow Thomas Gorton on Twitter here @angstromhoot
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