East African Court of Justice LGBT rights case ruling disappoints


east-african-court-of-justice-ruling-in-lgbt-rights-case-disappointsA historic case centred on LGBT equality in Uganda has ended with a disappointing outcome for human rights groups and activists.

On Tuesday, the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) delivered its judgment in a suit that originally challenged Uganda’s 2014 Anti-Homosexuality Act.

It was filed by the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) against the Attorney General of Uganda, on the basis that the act was contrary to the rule of law and good governance principles of the East African Community Treaty.

Following the nullification of the Anti-Homosexuality Act by the Constitutional Court of Uganda on 1st August 2014, the HRAPF argued that the case should still go ahead but be amended to no longer challenge the act directly but rather the passing of the act and its effects when it was in force.

It also stated that the case was a matter of public interest that the Court should hear as an exception.

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) was allowed to join as amicus curiae (friend of the court) and made their submissions regarding the impact of such laws on the HIV/AIDS scourge.

The court, however, decided that it would not accept the amendment to the case and therefore ruled that it was moot, since the Anti-Homosexuality Act had been nullified. It also stuck to the “cardinal doctrine of jurisprudence” to not address hypothetical questions.

While the court considered the public interest exception to this rule, it found that there was not sufficient evidence to “…establish the degree of public importance attached to the practice of homosexuality in Uganda…”

Through the ruling, the court lost an opportunity to pronounce in general on the passing of discriminatory laws against the LGBT community in East Africa.

In a statement, HRAPF said that while disappointed with the outcome, it is proud of its role in the case, “as this is the first time that an international human rights tribunal in Africa has heard a case concerning violations against LGBTI.” It further noted that the matter set precedents in the field of amicus curiae.

HRAPF added that, “The case has also brought together Ugandan, East African and African activists to take their destiny in their hands and challenge laws that threaten the rights of LGBTI persons even at the intentional level.”

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