Uganda rights activists file appeal against ruling on anti-LGBTQ law

FILE PHOTO: Christopher Street Day LGBTQ+ Pride parade in Munich

KAMPALA (Reuters) - Ugandan human rights advocates on Thursday filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against a ruling by a lower court that upheld a draconian anti-homosexuality law which includes the death penalty for certain same-sex acts.

An April ruling by the country's constitutional court declined to void Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA), a move requested by the activists who argued the law violated fundamental rights and was unconstitutional.

The court only nullified a few sections that it said were inconsistent with rights to health, privacy and freedom of religion.

Rights pressure groups say the law has triggered escalating violations against sexual minorities in the country, with over 1,000 cases recorded in the last nine months involving arrests, torture and house evictions, among others.

Nicholas Opiyo, one of the petitioners' lawyers said on the X platform: "We will wait for the Supreme Court's directions and are optimistic for an expedited hearing of the case."

The petitioners, who include a lawmaker and Uganda's most prominent LGBTQ rights campaigner Frank Mugisha, said the constitutional court had erred in dismissing their argument that the law violates "the right to human dignity and protection from inhumane and degrading treatment," according to court documents seen by Reuters.

Under the law, same-sex intercourse is punishable by life in prison while so called aggravated homosexuality attracts a death sentence, among other harsh penalties.

Promotion of homosexuality is banned and offenders can face up to 20 years in jail.

The West has denounced the law, with the United States imposing travel and trade sanctions against Ugandan officials deemed to have an anti-democratic stance, while the World Bank halted new lending to Uganda.

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Bernadette Baum)