Winners in reversal of Uganda's anti-gay law; now what?

Antigone Barton in the Science Speaks blog focuses on what’s next after this week’s Ugandan court decision that overturned the country’s new Anti-Homosexuality Act.  First, though, she asks who emerged as the winners in that court ruling:
Winners

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni
Uganda President Yoweri Museveni

Perhaps [Uganda President Yoweri Museveni] emerges as a winner, having exploited a position on either side of politically charged issue.
[Editor’s note: Museveni at first questioned whether the bill was properly handled in parliament — the issue which led to the Constitutional Court to overturn it this week — but then signed it anyway and so became the focus of massive celebrations by anti-gay Ugandans.]
The real winners are the local human rights advocates and those around the world who supported them, whose perseverance and courage led the law to court, and to being scrubbed from the books.
Opponents of the Anti-Homosexuality Law unveil a rainbow flag in the courtroom last week. From left to right:  LGBT rescuer Sandra Ntebi, organizer Jacqueline Kasha, and researcher Stella Nyanzi. (Photo courtesy of Facebook)
Opponents of the Anti-Homosexuality Law unveil a rainbow flag in the courtroom last week. From left to right: LGBT rescuer Sandra Ntebi, organizer Jacqueline Kasha, and researcher Stella Nyanzi. (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

What’s next?
But the law, the step backward it represented at a time when steps forward are more critical than ever, and the political expediencies it demonstrated, leaves questions in its wake. They include:

  • The future of the similarly harmful, repressive and rights-violating HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Bill, which would criminalize HIV transmission, force testing for pregnant women and sexual assault victims and compromise health provider confidentiality;
  • The after-effects of the Anti-Homosexuality law on HIV service provision and uptake;
  • The future and impact of civil-society restraining measures in Nigeria and Uganda that also obstruct health responses;
  • The continuing impact of that nation’s and at least 75 other nation’s anti-sodomy and other anti-gay laws;
  • Whether similar attention and sanctions as those directed at Uganda’s law, in response to Nigeria’s anti-gay law that was signed into law before Uganda’s, would support human rights advocates there, and prompt re-examination of that legislation.

Reaction to the laws in Nigeria and Uganda prompted reflection, inspired action, and raised the profile of human rights in HIV responses. So as the world [Editor’s note: just some parts of the world!] celebrates the defeat of one bad law, it will also be watchful.
[Editor’s note: Under the heading of “What’s next,” it’s worth noting that supporters of the anti-gay law promised to appeal the Constitutional Court decision to the Supreme Court, while Museveni said the situation would be discussed at the ruling party’s next meeting. The prospect still looms that parliament might pass the bill again, this time when a quorum is present.]
For more information, read the full article “Uganda Anti Homosexuality Act: Overturned on a technicality, it leaves questions”  in Science Speaks: HIV & TB News.

 

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at info@76crimes.com.

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Ugandan court overturns anti-gay law

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