Some much-needed good news out of Uganda: On Friday, the country’s Constitutional Court struck down a viciously anti-gay law passed in February. Under the law, gay people faced life imprisonment for having gay sex and seven years in prison for “attempting to commit homosexuality” or “promoting” homosexuality. The law applied to businesses and NGOs, whose directors faced seven years in prison if they dared to “promote” homosexuality in Uganda.
The legal triumph of the ruling was tempered somewhat by the fact that the court did not rule on the merits of the case. Rather, the judges held that parliament had not reached a quorum when the bill was passed, a technicality that renders the law a nullity. The ruling, then, is obviously problematic, as it implies that if parliament simply re-passes the bill with the requisite quorum, it might be constitutionally valid.
Still, the petitioners who brought the case, including journalist Andrew Mwenda, were celebrating a total victory on Friday, declaring the measure “dead as a door nail.” In its few months of life, the law—which was passed with the vigorous lobbying of American evangelicals—had already spurred a wave of anti-gay violence and endangered the country’s health. It’s unclear whether the genie of homophobic brutality can now be put back in the bottle, but at least that bloodshed will no longer occur with the not-so-tacit blessing of the state.
Ironically, one of the biggest winners of the ruling is Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, a vocal supporter of the law. Museveni will be attending President Barack Obama’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington next week, where his country’s anti-gay views were expected to be a point of contention. In recent months, the United States has imposed sanctions on the country—and cut funds to several American programs co-run with Ugandan authorities—as a direct result of the anti-gay law’s passage and implementation. (Several other countries, as well as the World Bank, also froze aid on account of the law.) With the act officially nullified, Museveni will be in a good position to lobby for the sanctions to be reversed.
TODAY IN SLATE
Meet the New Bosses
How the Republicans would run the Senate.
The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers
Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.
Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.
Why all cracker names sound alike.
Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom
This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059
- Protesters Take to the Streets to Sound Alarm on Climate Change in New York, Across the World
- Knife-Carrying White House Jumper is Vet who Feared “Atmosphere Was Collapsing”
- North Korea: American Sentenced to Hard Labor Wanted to Become “Second Snowden”
- Almost One in Four Americans Support Idea of Splitting From the Union
Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?
A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.