Uganda’s Constitutional Court will resume hearing a precedent setting petition against the law that bars gay people from employment and accessing equal opportunities in Uganda today, October 4th.
Activist Adrian Jjuko, Executive Director of Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) petitioned the court to nullify section 15(6) d of the Equal Opportunities Commission Act 2007.
The challenged section reads:
(6) The Commission shall not investigate—
(d) any matter involving behaviour which is considered to be—
(i) immoral and socially harmful, or
by the majority of the cultural and social communities in Uganda.
LGBT people are not mentioned by name as one of the groups in the act, however during the debate to pass the law, Syda Bbumba, the then Finance Minister said homosexuals should be targeted using the disputed clause.
“It is very important that we include that clause. This is because the homosexuals and the like have managed to forge their way through in other countries by identifying with minorities,” she said.
Uganda’s judiciary has stood up for gay people before, such as in the case brought by activist Victor Mukasa following a police search of his home and the case which stopped the ‘outing’ of homosexuals by the tabloid newspaper Rolling Stone.
“There is information of covert recruitment, of especially our children and youth, into such practices which we consider to be detrimental to the moral fabric of our society.”
No evidence provided for this claim of course – because none exists.
The ‘recruitment’ line is one used widely by the proponents of the ‘Kill gays’ Anti-Homosexuality bill. Chief frontman for the bill, David Bahati MP, was challenged by US MSNBC news host Rachel Maddow on this last year when he appeared on her show. Specifically, she asked, where is the evidence? Challenged to produce it, he never has. Nor has anyone else.
Uganda is also arguing before the UN:
“While the Constitution, under Chapter Four, guarantees rights of persons, it also imposes duties and obligations on them to ensure that in the enjoyment of such rights, they do not infringe on the rights of others. Those who practice and / or support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) issues continue to push for their recognition as a right.”
“In Uganda, there is an overwhelming consensus that such practices are untenable; and thus culturally and legally unacceptable. It is our considered opinion that such practices remain a matter of private choice. There should be no promotion of those practices.”
The UN’s High Commissioner for human rights, the Special Rapporteur on the right to health, and the Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders and on the right to freedom of opinion and expression have all criticized [PDF] Uganda’s treatment of LGBTs.
Picture by Wikimedia