La Cour constitutionnelle de l'Ouganda invalide la loi anti-homosexualité

La Cour constitutionnelle de l'Ouganda invalide la loi anti-homosexualité

>> Ugandan Court Invalidates Anti-Gay Law : Judges strike down legislation on a technicality, but activists say homosexuality remains criminal offence under colonial-era laws

"Elle est nulle et non avenue", a déclaré ce vendredi 1er août, le président de la Cour donnant lecture du jugement, estimant que le quorum exigé par la Constitution lors du vote au Parlement n'avait pas été atteint.

OUGANDA---La-Cour-invalide-la-loi-anti-homosexualitéCette loi, promulguée en février dernier, qui ajoutait notamment la répression de la "promotion de l'homosexualité" et l'obligation de dénoncer les homosexuels, à une législation punissant déjà depuis plus d'un demi-siècle les "relations charnelles contre nature", avait suscité un tollé international.

L'annulation de la loi a été rapidement saluée sur les réseaux sociaux, même si la précédente législation - l'article 145 du Code pénal, datant de 1950 et remontant au régime colonial britannique, reste en vigueur.

"Jugement final : je ne suis plus une criminelle aujourd'hui. Nous avons fait l'Histoire pour les générations à venir", a exulté Jacqueline Kasha, figure de la cause homosexuelle dans le pays.

"La loi antihomosexualité rétrograde en Ouganda a été annulée par la Cour constitutionnelle, elle est désormais morte et bien morte", s'est réjoui le journaliste ougandais Andrew Mwenda, qui était un des requérants.

Le Pasteur Martin Ssempa, pourfendeur radical de l'homosexualité, a réagi en affirmant que "les Etats-Unis avait insufflé la sodomie dans notre pays", en référence aux récentes sanctions contre l'Ouganda prises en réaction à cette loi par Washington. Il dénonçait ces derniers jours par avance un "avortement judiciaire de notre loi", attribué, selon lui, aux pression internationales exercées sur l'Ouganda, s'est dit "déterminé à faire appel devant la Cour suprême".
Plusieurs bailleurs de fonds avaient suspendu certaines de leurs aides au gouvernement ougandais.

En robe pastorale noire, le Pasteur Ssempa avait vendredi, avant l'arrivée des magistrats, prié au milieu de la salle d'audience, remplie, pour qu'ils n'annulent pas la loi.

Selon des ONG, le durcissement de la législation réprimant l'homosexualité en Ouganda a provoqué une hausse des abus contre les homosexuels (agressions et racket policier, licenciements, expulsions de leurs logements...), et réduit leur accès aux services de santé et de prévention contre le sida, en raison des craintes d'arrestation.

STOP HOMOPHOBIE
avec AFP

>>  A Ugandan court on Friday invalidated an anti-gay bill signed into law earlier this year, saying the measure is illegal because it was passed during a parliamentary session that lacked a quorum.

Activists erupted in cheers after the court ruled the law "null and void," but some cautioned that the fight was not over: The state could appeal the ruling in the Supreme Court and legislators might try to reintroduce new anti-gay measures.

The law provided jail terms up to life for those convicted of engaging in gay sex. It also allowed lengthy jail terms for those convicted of the offenses of "attempted homosexuality" as well as "promotion of homosexuality."

Although the legislation has wide support in Uganda, it has been condemned in the West and rights groups have described it as draconian.

The U.S. has withheld or redirected funding to some Ugandan institutions accused of involvement in rights abuses, but the ruling Friday might win the Ugandan delegation a softer landing in the U.S. next week as it heads to Washington for a gathering led by President Barack Obama.

The panel of five judges on the East African country's Constitutional Court said the speaker of parliament acted illegally when she allowed a vote on the measure despite at least three objections — including from the country's prime minister — over a lack of a quorum when the bill was passed on Dec. 20.

"The speaker was obliged to ensure that there was a quorum," the court said in its ruling. "We come to the conclusion that she acted illegally."

The courtroom was packed with Ugandans opposing or supporting the measure.

Frank Mugisha, a Ugandan gay leader, said the ruling was a "step forward" for gay rights even though he was concerned about possible retaliation.

Ugandan lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi, an attorney for the activists, said the ruling "upholds the rule of law and constitutionalism in Uganda."

Lawyers and activists challenged the anti-gay law after it was enacted in February on the grounds that it was illegally passed and that it violated certain rights guaranteed in Uganda's constitution.

The court ruled Friday that the activists' entire petition had been disposed of since the law was illegally passed in the first place. This means there will be no further hearings about the activists' argument that the anti-gay measure discriminated against some Ugandans in violation of the constitution.

Nicholas Opiyo, a Ugandan lawyer who was among the petitioners, welcomed the ruling but said there is a missed opportunity to debate the substance of the law. "The ideal situation would have been to deal with the other issues of the law, to sort out this thing once and for all," Opiyo said.

A colonial-era law that criminalizes sex acts "against the order of nature" still remains in effect in Uganda, allowing for the continued arrests of alleged homosexual offenders, Opiyo said.

Lawmakers might also try to reintroduce a new anti-gay measure, he said.

Kosiya Kasibayo, a state attorney, said a decision had not been made on whether to appeal the ruling in the Supreme Court, Uganda's highest court.

The anti-gay legislation was enacted on Feb. 24 by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who said he wanted to deter Western groups from promoting homosexuality among African children.

Photo : Isaac Kasamani/AFP/Getty Images

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