by Jeffrey Gettleman
August 1, 2014
A Ugandan court on Friday struck down a punitive anti-gay law that has strained Uganda’s relations with the West, but the court ruled on narrow technical grounds, preserving the possibility that the measure could be revived.
In front of an overflowing courtroom, a panel of five judges announced that the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which punishes some gay behavior with life in prison, was invalid because it had been passed by Parliament without a proper quorum.
Uganda’s vehement anti-gay movement began in 2009 after American preachers came to Uganda and worked closely with Ugandan legislators to draft a bill that called for putting gay people to death.
After an international outcry, with several Western countries threatening to cut aid, the Ugandan government modified the bill to make “aggravated homosexuality” punishable by life in prison. The bill was passed by Parliament in December, with advocates calling it an “early Christmas gift.” Mr. Museveni publicly signed it into law in February.
In June, the Obama administration announced it was cutting back on aid, imposing visa restrictions and canceling a regional military exercise as a message to “reinforce our support for human rights of all Ugandans, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.” Several other countries also suspended assistance to Uganda.