Court to rule on limiting East Africa’s anti-gay laws

East Africa Court of Justice (Photo courtesy of
East Africa Court of Justice (Photo courtesy of

Lawyers seeking recognition of the human rights of LGBTI people are scheduled to learn on Sept. 27 whether the Tanzania-based East African Court will take a stand for LGBTI rights by ruling that anti-gay laws such as the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Act are unacceptable throughout East Africa.

In its East African legal challenge to the Anti-Homosexuality Act, the Uganda-based Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) argues that Uganda’s passage of that anti-gay law contravened the country’s obligations as a member of the East African Community. That regional organization, comprising Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania, is founded on principles set forth in the East African Treaty, adopted one country at time from 1999 through 2007.

East African Community members (Map courtesy of WIkipedia)
East African Community members (Map courtesy of WIkipedia)

The court has notified HRAPF that it will deliver its judgment on Sept. 27 at its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.  HRAPF has invited supporters to attend.

“Those who can be there, please do. We are keeping our fingers crossed for a positive judgment” HRAPF said.

In August 2014, Uganda’s Constitutional Court overturned the Anti-Homosexuality Act on procedural grounds — the lack of a quorum in Parliament — but did not address claims that the law violated Ugandan constitutional guarantees of human rights.

HRAPF provides legal assistance to LGBTI defendants in Uganda under the umbrella of the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CSCHRCL), a coalition of 50 organizations opposed to the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

HRAPF and CSCHRCL have said that reasons for pursuing the case include: “There are real chances of an amended Anti-Homosexuality Bill being brought to Uganda’s Parliament as well as to other parliaments in the region (most notably Kenya and Tanzania); if successful, the [case] would make clear to law makers that such a Bill would contravene the East African treaty.”

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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, and editor / publisher of Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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