Many LGBT rights supporters inside the Ugandan Constitutional Court this week say there are strong signs that the justices will strike down the Anti-Homosexuality Act when the court reconvenes.
For two days, the Uganda’s Constitutional Court has heard submissions from LGBTI rights activists in order to repeal the anti-gay legislation. In this ruling, the court will judge on whether parliament broke the rules.
That may sound surprising, since the Ugandan political system has seemed stacked against LGBT people since legislation imposing up to a lifetime prison sentence for homosexuality was enacted in a surprise vote on December 20, 2013.
However, the court has pushed forward with hearing the case over the government’s objections during the first day of hearings, which has left LGBT rights supporters feeling confident.
“I am very optimistic that they will strike it down. In my opinion having been in court for the past two days, I think the judges are being very independent.”
Frank Mugisha of Sexual Minorities Uganda
Nicholas Opiyo, one of the attorneys for the group of ten human rights activists, also felt very heartened after the first day of hearings concluded on Wednesday, tweeting…
“The constitutional court adjourns to tomorrow further hearing of the AHA petition in Ug. We believe that the court will find in our favour”
The petitioners also believe by regulating the behaviour of gay and lesbian Ugandans while not regulating the behaviour of heterosexuals, the Act violates article 21 of the constitution. Article 21 ‘guarantees’ equality and freedom of discrimination. Section 13 of the Act, which bans persons ‘promoting’ homosexuality, is also said to violate freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of association.
The Ugandan government is defending the law as constitutional by referring to Article 91, which says parliament has the power to legislate and to create laws for the betterment of society. Under the law, homosexuality is punished with life in prison.