Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Law: the struggle continues

March 2, 2014

On February 24, 2014, President Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Law: a disaster for LGBT people in Uganda. How should the fight against this draconian law be continued? And what can the Dutch government do about this?

Brave Ugandan activists are fighting on in the courtroom. Hivos is in close contact with the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community as they explore ways to challenge the Anti-Homosexuality Law in court in Kampala. “The law is difficult to implement, and also contrary to the Ugandan constitution and human rights conventions that the country has signed”, says Hivos specialist Fabienne Simenel.

Simenel also points out the need to guarantee the safety of LGBT activists in Uganda. “Every activist needs to know how to work as safely as possible, for example by not saving important information on your computer and having a safe haven prepared.” In the longer term, Simenel says it is important that Ugandan activists continue their efforts to change public attitudes toward LGBT people.

Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans signalled his disappointment at the signing of the law by Museveni and called the ambassador of Uganda on the carpet over the issue. Minister Timmermans also announced he would support Ugandan LGBT organisations in their appeal to the Constitutional Court.

On February 25, the Dutch government announced a series of measures in response to the law. The Netherlands will support organisations that openly advocate for the law’s suspension and will no longer fund institutions responsible for implementing the law.

Simenel welcomes the fact that the Dutch government has stopped its direct assistance to the Ugandan justice sector and is taking its cues from the activists themselves. “This is a strong signal that shows gay rights are a top priority for the Netherlands. I’m also glad that the Netherlands is following LGBT activists’ lead in this struggle going forward. They are in the best position to determine the strategy needed to contest this disastrous law.”

Hivos will continue to support LGBT activists in every possible way in this legal battle.

Uganda’s anti-homosexuality act challenged before the East African Court of Justice

On 11 March 2014, the legality of the Anti-Homosexuality Act was challenged in Constitutional Court by an unprecedented coalition of petitioners and an Injunction against enforcement sought. The petition was filed under the auspices of the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, a coalition of 50 indigenous civil society organisations that advocates for non-discrimination in Uganda. The petition argues that the Anti Homosexuality Act violates Ugandans’ Constitutionally guaranteed right to: privacy, to be free from discrimination, dignity, to be free from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, to the freedoms of expression, thought, assembly and association; to the presumption of innocence, and to the right to civic participation.

Read the press statement under documents in the right sidebar.