Gay Rights Activist Challenge Uganda’s Anti-Gay Law

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Wednesday Mar 12, 2014

Gay rights activists have banded together to challenge Uganda's anti-gay law in the Constitutional Court.

Gay Star News reports Fox Odoi, a member of parliament for West Budama North and former opposition leader Ogenga Latigo are among those who filed a March 11 challenge to the legislation formerly known as the "Kill All the Gays" bill, before the death penalty was removed from the legislation.

"No personal opinion, no religious belief, no matter how deeply held or widely shared can ever justify depriving another human being of his or her basic rights," the activist told the court, saying they believed that by regulating the behavior of gay and lesbian Ugandans but not heterosexuals, the Act violated article 21 of the constitution.

They also argue that section 13 of the Act, which bans "promoting" homosexuality, violates freedom of expression, conscience and association. They have filed a permanent injunction at the High Court to prevent media from publishing names and photos of alleged gays and lesbians.

"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 vilates the highest law of our country," said Andrew Mwenda, a journalist and petitioner in British newspaper, The Star.

The Star reports that the Civil Society Coalition of Human Rights and Constitutional Law, which mounted the challenge, had already documented 10 arrests of known or suspected gays, and at least three cases of landlords evicting tenants.

Activists are hoping the Constitutional Court won't side with Ugandan government spokesperson Ofwondo Opondo, who defended the Act, saying, "When the rant of gay activists is done over the Bill, the world will move on."

The courts have yet to respond.

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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