The Star (Nairobi)

10 August 2014

Uganda Holds First Gay Parade After Court Overturned Law

Photo: CCR Justice
Gay and lesbian activists attend Uganda's first gay pride parade in Kampala in 2013.

Scores of gays marched in Entebbe town, about 25 miles from the capital city of Kampala, on Saturday for the third annual Ugandan gay pride parade.

This is the first parade after courts in Kampala overturned the antigay laws earlier passed by parliament.

"We are a group of people who have suffered enough," said Ugandan lesbian activist Jacqueline Kasha. "We are Ugandans who have the right to gather in a public place ... and we are going to have fun."

The anti-gay law signed by President Yoweri Museveni earlier this year toughened existing penalties for what the law called "aggravated homosexuality." Uganda's parliament will try to re-introduce an anti-homosexuality law that was thrown out by a court, a lawmaker leading the effort told Reuters on Wednesday, a move that could once again damage relations with the West.

Last week, the east African country's constitutional court nullified the law, signed by President Yoweri Museveni in February, on a technicality, saying it had been passed by parliament without quorum.

That ruling - two days before the president flew to Washington for a U.S.-Africa summit - appeared to have handed Museveni a way out of a dilemma by striking down a law that he had backed enthusiastically but which was condemned by Western countries and threatened vital aid and investment.

It was not immediately clear whether Museveni would support the bill a second time, if passed by parliament again.

"We're mobilising members to pledge their support for re-introduction of this bill when the House comes back from recess (in about two weeks' time)," Abdu Latif Ssebaggala, told Reuters.

Ssebaggala said he had started collecting signatures on Tuesday of members of parliament in favour of re-introducing the bill and that he expected to have over 200 - in a house of 383 members - by the end of Wednesday.

Homosexuality is taboo in much of Africa and is illegal in 37 countries there. But the punishments in Uganda were among the harshest.

Under the Anti-Homosexuality Act, the crime of "aggravated homosexuality" - someone with HIV having gay sex or anyone having gay sex with someone considered "vulnerable", such as a disabled person - was punishable by life in jail.

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