Constitutional Court of Uganda Delivers Verdict on Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2023


Kampala, Uganda (TAE) – The Constitutional Court of Uganda has made a significant ruling on the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2023, declaring the legislation largely constitutional except for four specific provisions. This landmark judgment was reached by a panel comprising five justices, led by Deputy Chief Justice Hon. Justice Richard Buteera, alongside Justices Geofrey Kiryabwire, Monica Mugenyi, Kibeedi Muzamiru, and Christopher Gashirabake.

Key Points from the Judgment

The court specifically nullified Sections 3(2)(c), 9, 11(2)(d), and 14 of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, citing their contravention of the Ugandan Constitution. These sections dealt with the criminalization of leasing premises for homosexual acts, the obligation to report such acts to the police, and engaging in homosexual acts that result in a terminal illness. The decision was part of the judgment on the Consolidated Constitutional Petition Nos. 14, 15, 16, & 85 of 2023, challenging the Act’s constitutionality.

Background of the Act

The Anti-Homosexuality Act was passed in May 2023 amid public outcry and media discussions on the forced recruitment of children into homosexual acts, aiming to criminalize homosexuality, its recognition, promotion, financing, and normalization. The Act faced opposition from 22 private citizens and human rights activists, citing violations of human rights as guaranteed under the Uganda Constitution and international human rights treaties.

Rationale Behind the Court’s Decision

In its comprehensive judgment, the Constitutional Court examined several factors, including:

  1. Legislative and judicial precedents from jurisdictions that have decriminalized consensual homosexuality in private spaces.
  2. The global lack of consensus on non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, with significant resistance from a bloc of UN member states.
  3. The inherent conflict in international human rights law between universal human rights and the respect for cultural diversity.
  4. The delicate balance required between individual autonomy and communal interests, notably influenced by the US Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organisation.
  5. The importance of respecting Uganda’s socio-cultural norms, values, and aspirations as mandated by the nation’s constitution.

Public Reaction and Next Steps

The ruling has elicited mixed reactions, with many taking to social media to express their views. The petitioners, dissatisfied with the court’s decision, are expected to appeal to the Supreme Court.

City lawyer Ferdinand Tumuhaise took his X handle to agree with the court per his prediction early last year when the impugned Act was passed by Uganda`s parliament. Other people joined him in commenting about the ruling.

Lawyer agrees with the Court’s ruling.

This case underscores the ongoing tension between human rights advocacy and cultural-national legal standards, marking a pivotal moment in Uganda’s legal and social landscape.

Our reporters in Kampala will keep tabs on this story and keep you updated.


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