Uganda court removes barrier blocking LGBTI anti-bias cases

Logo of Uganda's Equal Opportunities Commission
Logo of Uganda’s Equal Opportunities Commission

Equal opportunity for LGBTI Ugandans moved one step closer to reality this week.

That progress came Nov. 10, when the country’s Constitutional Court overturned a provision that had allowed the Equal Opportunities Commission to disregard complaints from people it considered “immoral or socially unacceptable.”

Adrian Jjuuko, executive director of the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF)
Adrian Jjuuko, executive director of the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF)

That long-delayed judgment came in the case of Jjuuko Adrian v Attorney General, which challenged the constitutionality of Section 15(6)(d) of the Equal Opportunities Commission Act of 2007.

That provision potentially affected any and all marginalized groups, including sex workers, some women, people living with HIV and the disabled. But it had been included in the original law in order to stop homosexuals and other LGBTI people  from claiming protection against discrimination.

The case has been pursued for the past seven years by the gay-friendly Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF).  It was filed in 2009 by counsel Ladislaus Kiiza Rwakafuzi, with Adrian Jjuuko, HRAPF executive director, as petitioner.

HRAPF logo
HRAPF logo

The case was supported by HRAPF, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CSCHRCL), with sponsorship from  the Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa (OSIEA). Additional support has come from Nairobi-based UHAI – the East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative (UHAI-EASHRI); the Washington, D.C.-based National Endowment for Democracy (NED); and the New York-based American Jewish World Service (AJWS).

Because of the court ruling, Jjuuko said, “the state cannot legally declare some people as social misfits who are not worthy of protection.”

HRAPF added, “This is a big win to the marginalized communities in Uganda, especially LGBTI and sex workers.”

‘It has been an eight-year journey fraught with clashes with the judiciary over the delay, but I am glad the case is finally decided and that we have won,” Jjuuko said. “The positive ruling removes the only legal impediment that had stopped minority groups from accessing the EOC.”

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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, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]


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