Uganda anti-homosexuality law challenged in court

Gay rights activists in Kampala, Uganda on 11 March 2013 The court action is being backed by about 50 civil society groups

Related Stories

Ugandan rights activists and politicians have filed a legal challenge to overturn a tough anti-gay law condemned by Western donors.

The law violated the rights of gay people and subjected them to "cruel and inhuman punishment", they said.

Several cases of "violence and retaliation" have been reported since President Yoweri Museveni signed the law last month, the activists added.

Uganda is a deeply conservative society where many people oppose gay rights.

Start Quote

There is only one thing I fear - living in a society that has no room for minorities”

End Quote Fox Odoi Ugandan MP

However, some people are beginning to question whether punishments proposed in the law are too harsh, reports BBC Uganda correspondent Catherine Byaruhanga.

It allows life imprisonment as the penalty for acts of "aggravated homosexuality" and also criminalises the "promotion of homosexuality".

'Tenants evicted'

The Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, which represents about 50 groups, filed the petition in the Constitutional Court, asking for the law to be annulled.

Anti-gay supporters celebrate after Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni signed a law imposing harsh penalties for homosexuality in Kampala February 24, 2014. Anti-gay supporters in Uganda rejoiced when the law was passed

Ruling party MP Fox Odoi, who is Mr Museveni's former legal adviser, was among the lead petitioners.

Uganda's anti-homosexuality act

  • Life imprisonment for gay sex, including oral sex
  • Life imprisonment for "aggravated homosexuality", including sex with a minor or while HIV-positive
  • Life imprisonment for living in a same-sex marriage
  • Seven years for "attempting to commit homosexuality"
  • Between five and seven years in jail or a $40,700 (£24,500) fine or both for the promotion of homosexuality
  • Businesses or non-governmental organisations found guilty of the promotion of homosexuality would have their certificates of registration cancelled and directors could face seven years in jail

He broke ranks with his party by opposing the law in parliament, and said he did not fear a backlash from voters in the 2016 election, our reporter says.

"I don't fear losing an election. There is only one thing I fear - living in a society that has no room for minorities. I will not live in a society that doesn't respect and protect people who are different from the majority," Mr Odoi said.

Prominent Ugandan journalist Andrew Mwenda also supported the court action.

"This Act not only represents an effort by the executive and parliament to scapegoat an unpopular minority for political gain, but we believe it also violates the highest law of our country," he said.

Some people known or suspected to be gay had faced "violence and retaliation" since the law was signed, the coalition said in a statement, the AFP news agency reports.

It had documented 10 cases of arrests of people, and at least three cases of landlords evicting tenants, the coalition added.

Gay rights around the world

Map showing gay rights around the world

Uganda's authorities have defended the law, saying President Museveni wanted "to demonstrate Uganda's independence in the face of Western pressure and provocation".

The World Bank has postponed a $90m (£54m) loan to Uganda to improve its health services after the law was approved.

Several European nations - including Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden - have cut aid to Uganda to show their opposition to the law.

The sponsor of the law, MP David Bahati, insists that homosexuality is a "behaviour that can be learned and can be unlearned".

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Africa stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • Man holding lipWitch hunt

    The country where a writer accused of blasphemy must run


  • Espresso cupNews quiz

    Which city serves the strongest cup of coffee?


  • Lauren Arrington holding up a fishSomething's fishy

    Scientist claims 'child prodigy' getting credit for his discovery


  • A woman's stomach with the words "I love IDF"'War porn'?

    Support - and disdain - for women posting sexy selfies for the IDF


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • CastleLiving royally

    No longer reserved for kings and queens, some find owning a castle simply divine

Programmes

  • Leader of Hamas Khaled MeshaalHARDtalk Watch

    BBC exclusive: Hamas leader on the eagerness to end bloodshed in Gaza

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.