Press briefing after filing the constitutional challenge (Pic: Twitter)
In a major development, a group of prominent activists and scholars in Uganda have lodged a challenge against the country’s recently enacted Anti-Homosexuality Act in the Constitutional Court.
According to the blog O-blog-dee-o-blog-da, the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CSCHRSL) filed the petition with the help of seven advocates from five law firms.
They argue that the oppressive law is unconstitutional as it violates Ugandans’ right to privacy, freedom of expression, assembly and association.
NTV Uganda reports that the group has also filed an injunction in the High Court to prevent the media from publishing names and pictures of people alleged to be gay or lesbian on the basis that this violates their right to dignity.
Not only do LGBTI people in Uganda face the draconian provisions of the new law, but a number of Ugandan tabloids have been “outing” people that they claim are gay and lesbian people, putting them in danger of additional discrimination, violent attacks and even murder.
The group opposing the law includes Makerere University’s Professor Oloka Onyango, the former leader of the opposition, Professor Ogenga Latigo, MP Fox Odoi and political commentator Andrew Mwenda.
Activists such as Dr. Paul Ssemugoma, Jacqueline Kasha Nabagesera, Julian Pepe Onziema, Frank Mugisha, as well as groups including the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) and the Centre for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) are also behind the court action.
Speaking at a press briefing after filing the constitutional challenge, MP Fox Odoi commented: “I do not fear losing an election, I fear a society that seeks to discriminate minorities. I cannot have my name there.”
Meanwhile, Speciosa Wandira-Kazibwe, the former vice president of Uganda (1994 to 2003) and the UN’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, has slammed the Anti-Homosexuality Act, saying that it will “fuel stigma and discrimination against the LGBT community and undermines the significant progress of the national AIDS response.”
According to Uganda’s The Independent, Wandira-Kazibwe said: “I am in full solidarity with the LGBT community and I will continue to defend their rights in Uganda and across Africa. Rest assured of my unwavering support and action for the realisation of the rights for every human being, which has been my struggle since childhood. I will not reverse my path.”
She added: “I will continue to engage with the Government of Uganda and civil society organisations on this important matter.”