I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS NEWS!
But I’m really perplexed why it’s not making bigger waves in media circles: the Ugandan Constitutional Court ruled their Anti-Homosexuality Act “null and void” last week. This law — which was once dubbed the “Kill the Gays” bill before becoming the “Just Put Gay People in Jail for Life” bill — has been a nightmare for LGBT people in Uganda since it passed at the end of December last year.
In a victory activists were unsure they’d get, Uganda’s Constitutional Court overturned the country’s draconian Anti-Homosexuality Act today, declaring the anti-LGBT law “null and void” because of a parliamentary technicality in how it was passed.
The court determined that when members of Parliament passed the law in December 2013, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga had not established quorum — a required minimum number of members present to vote — effectively invalidating the law.
“The speaker was obliged to ensure that there was a quorum,” the court ruled, reports the Associated Press. “We come to the conclusion that she acted illegally.”
LGBT activists, attorneys, and allies cheered inside the packed courtroom in Uganda’s capital city, Kampala, when the verdict was announced, waving rainbow flags and raising their fists in victory.
Kasha Jaqueline, one of the nation’s most prominent LGBT activists, a lesbian and feminist, and the founder of the country’s first LGBT group, Freedom and Roam Uganda, was ecstatic upon hearing the ruling, according to her Twitter account. “I am no longer criminal today,” Jacqueline tweeted. “We have made history for generations to come. Speak OUT now.”
Under the influence of American missionaries, this act is a reflection of rampant religious homophobia in Uganda, and culminated in Easter Sunday sermons that called for a blessing on those working to “free the land of gays” — and if that’s not a rallying cry for genocide, I’m not sure what is. One bishop’s comments were even more scary:
Bishop Emmanuel Obbo, the Archbishop of Tororo Archdiocese, urged every citizen who supported the anti-homosexuality law to lay down greed, corruption and “put them to death and let generosity rise up within us and flow out in abundance”.
This issue was the main reason for my decision to leave the Anglican church community I’d found refuge in after leaving Sovereign Grace Ministries and pushed me to attend a mainstream Episcopal church. The Anglican church groups in American split from the Episcopal church over LGBTQ-related differences in theology, and some churches realigned themselves into partnerships and put themselves under the authority of African bishops because they were ideologically aligned over LGBTQ issues. This includes Ugandan bishops. Horrified at this implicit endorsement of the Anti-Homosexuality Act in Uganda, I was happy to place myself in an Episcopal church instead.
And now the Act has been struck down, but only on a technicality. I just hope the religious leaders in Uganda will use their influence to offer protection and support of LGBTQ individuals instead of continuing to terrorize them with abusive theology and threats. And then maybe there can be hope that this kind of legal bullying will be a thing of the past for Uganda.