In a landmark judgment, the Constitutional Court rejected a comprehensive challenge to the anti-gay law but made significant amendments to contentious clauses, marking a potential win-win outcome.

The panel of five justices delivered their verdict on Wednesday regarding the Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA), nullifying provisions that hindered access to health services and absolved property owners from criminal liability.

However, the court upheld the prohibition on advocacy, activism, and organizing LGBTI campaigns, affirming their illegality under the law.

A crucial aspect addressed was Section 9 of the law, which had previously penalized property owners for renting out their premises, such as houses and hotels, to individuals engaging in activities criminalized by the AHA.

The enactment of this legislation last year triggered Western sanctions, including measures from the World Bank and the US, halting new lending and issuing travel cautions.

Particularly contentious was the clause imposing the death penalty for aggravated homosexuality, causing consternation among human rights activists and Western nations.

President Museveni clarified the law’s intent, emphasizing that it targets recruitment into homosexuality, exhibitionism, and promotion of sexual orientation, while not criminalizing individuals based on their identity alone.

Despite these clarifications, the death penalty provision remains intact, prompting mixed feelings among petitioners, with some expressing disappointment and others acknowledging partial victory.

Journalist Andrew Mwenda, a petitioner, expressed discontent with the court’s decision, vowing to appeal to the Supreme Court. He criticized the justices for allegedly succumbing to public sentiments rather than adhering strictly to constitutional principles.

With heightened global focus on LGBT rights, particularly from the US government, it remains uncertain whether the ruling will satisfy international demands for nullification of the law in its entirety, despite clarifications provided by President Museveni.


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