Court Rules Uganda's Anti Gay Bill Unconstitutional

A Ugandan constitutional court declared the country's anti-gay law illegal because parliament didn't have a quorum. This is not as good of news as one might hope because the issue is one of procedure, not content.

The five judge constitutional court ruled that the speaker of parliament had acted illegally when she allowed a vote on the measure despite a lack of a quorum when the bill was passed. They also found she ignored objections by the prime minister to this effect.

The speaker was obliged to ensure that there was a quorum. We come to the conclusion that she acted illegally.

The government could call for a new session with quorum or appeal the ruling in the Supreme Court. Also, a colonial-era law that criminalises sex acts "against the order of nature" still remains in effect in Uganda. These measures are likely to enjoy wide popular support in Uganda but also likely to be condemned in the West. The law which has now been struck down outlined jail terms of up to life for those convicted of engaging in gay sex, as well as serious jail terms for those convicted of the offences of "attempted homosexuality" and "promotion of homosexuality."

Image via AP/Reuters.