It’s going to have to be back to the drawing board for Uganda’s reliably dim legislators.
In a unanimous decision, the Constitutional Court of Uganda has nullified the anti-gay law passed by Parliament in December 2013 and signed into law February 2014.
Asked by petitioners to nullify the law because Parliament passed it without a quorum, the court agreed that it was passed without the required number of legislators in attendance and so couldn’t stand. The result today represents, yet again, a wonderful insight into the independence of Uganda’s judiciary.
This is the fourth time, in my recollection, the legal process in Uganda has favored the pro-gay side in the last 6 or so years. I am aware of only one ruling that has gone the side of the anti-gay side, recently when Minister Lokodo was sued for stopping a gay workshop. 4-1 is, however, a very healthy record that, no doubt, the pro-gay lobby in Uganda should relish.
What does it all really mean?
It was a very brave panel to scupper the proceedings at this stage, something I must admit I didn’t think the judges would do.
This case is really about whether Parliament can single out a section of the population [gay people] to criminalize and stigmatize while implicitly and explicitly overlooking every other member of society [straight people] who are capable of committing the same actions the pilloried members of society have been criminalized for. That would be a violation of the constitutional right to equal protection and that is the area that the judges must eventually pronounce themselves on to kill off this law for good.
While that decision has now been put off, the judges must be doubly applauded because it cannot have been lost on them that the political implications of their decisions were stark. They have nonetheless throttled the law passed based on the flouting of Parliamentary rules, leaving Uganda’s Parliamentarians looking like the foolish, impetuous, thoughtless turncoats they have made a habit of being.
Rebecca Kadaga, the wannabe president of Uganda, who tried to use the Nazi bill to get one up on her rival for the presidency, Amama Mbabazi, has ended up with egg on her face, especially since she is a lawyer and has been embarrassed for her lack of legal acumen when she let the Nazi anti-gay bill through Parliament on her watch.
The president, Yoweri Museveni, will now argue that the law has been killed because of what he referred to in January as ‘abnormal, spinster’ Kadaga’s failure to cross her tees and dot her eyes. He gets to come out looking clean even though it will not be lost on perceptive minds that he excoriated Parliament for passing the bill without a quorum and then he went ahead to sign it anyway.
This Constitutional decision, however, does keep the door open for a new bill to be drafted and re-presented to Parliament so it doesn’t necessarily mean that the war has been won. No, it now remains to be seen if the losing side can regroup to fight another day. The odds for them, however, are getting longer and longer, with every legal defeat and they would know it if they were astute enough.
They likely are not, sadly.
If I were to put in my two pennies’ worth, lawyers now need to trawl through all the laws that have been passed without a quorum and lodge them with the Constitutional Court. By the time the learned judges got through all those, Uganda’s parliament would have no laws left on the books. And then we should see how important they feel their Nazi anti-gay crusade really is to their existence and that of the country that they would attempt to bring another kill-the-gays bill back in haste.
For now, it’s bottoms up possums. Your truly needs a chandelier to hang on to while singing “I am what I am …”