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Uganda court strikes down Anti-Homosexuality Act

After hearing arguments Wednesday on a challenge to the controversial Anti-Homosexuality Act brought by a group of human rights activists, legal scholars, opposition politicians, and LGBT people, the Constitutional Court of Uganda struck down the law today.

The act was seen as one of the most draconian anti-gay laws in the world, punishing homosexuality with life in prison. The law, which was passed in December, was challenged because petitioners asserted that it had been passed by the parliament without following proper procedure.

House Speaker Rebecca Kadaga ignored a quorum call by Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi when she moved the bill for a vote on Dec. 20. Without a quorum, the petitioners argue, the bill was not lawfully passed. The judge agreed with petitioners there was no quorum when the Anti-Homosexuality Act was passed and said it was an 'illegality'.

"The illegal act of the Speaker tainted the process and rendered it a nullity," the judge said.

"This is a major victory for gay campaigners and their straight allies in Uganda," human rights activist Peter Tatchell said. "They fought this law and won, against all odds. Congratulations to the Ugandan gay and straight civil society coalition that brought this legal challenge."

PinkNews reports that the ruling was announced this morning to a crowd, with activists cheering upon hearing the law was effectively "null and void."

Although some are concerned about the possibility of parliament attempting to pass the law again - following proper procedure - human rights activists are today celebrating this victory.