Uganda: International Jurists Condemn “Hateful” Court Judgment


The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has warned of the disastrous human rights impact of the Ugandan Constitutional Court’s refusal to strike down the country’s “Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2023” (AHA).

The AHA imposes life imprisonment for engaging in homosexual acts and the death penalty for “aggravated” homosexuality. It also criminalises the “promotion of homosexuality,” placing human rights defenders advocating for LGBTQI+ rights at risk of imprisonment for up to 20 years.

On 3 April, the Court stunned the world by declaring that the draconian law, except for four provisions, complies with the Constitution of Uganda.

“This appalling ruling is an affront to and violates the human rights of LGBTIQ+ persons to life, dignity, freedom from discrimination and equality, freedom from torture, liberty, and privacy, among other rights,” said the jurists in a statement on Tuesday.

Based in Geneva, the ICJ is a group of 60 eminent senior judges, attorneys, and academics who work to develop national and international human rights standards through the law.

“The Ugandan Constitutional Court has abysmally failed to apply international human rights law and standards, which undoubtedly require the striking down of the Anti-Homosexuality Act as unlawful and unconstitutional in its entirety,” said Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, Africa Regional Director for the ICJ.

“Instead of applying now very well-established international human rights law and standards, as required by the Ugandan Constitution and the country’s international human rights law obligations, the Court has peddled a discourse that explicitly questions the universal nature of human rights based on purportedly specific societal contexts and popular homophobic opinion in Uganda,” she added.

The ICJ expressed particular concern at the Court’s willingness to accept “evidence” presented by the government that the law was “enacted against the backdrop of the recruitment of children into the practice of homosexuality”, and the judges’ interpretation of universal human rights as subject to restriction based on the “communal right to socio-cultural self-determination”.

“We urge the Ugandan government to uphold its obligations under international human rights law and respect the rights of all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and gender expression by taking immediate steps to repeal this discriminatory and hateful legislation,” said Ramjathan-Keogh.

Meanwhile, the South African government has remained silent on the Ugandan Constitutional Court’s devastating ruling, despite calls by civil society groups to speak out on the issue.

Get the Mamba Newsletter

Latest Comments
    Reply -

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend