Uganda's horrible law punishing "aggravated homosexuality" has been ruled illegal — not because anyone had a change of heart, but thanks to a procedural technicality.
The Constitutional Court ruled that a law passed earlier this year punishing "aggravated homosexuality" and the "promotion of homosexuality" with life imprisonment is illegal. According to the BBC, the law was annulled because not enough members of parliament were present to vote for the bill. "The speaker was obliged to ensure that there was a quorum," the court ruling reads. "We come to the conclusion that she acted illegally."
The ruling was in response to a case filed by activists who argued the law was passed illegally and violated discrimination protections in the country's constitution, according to ABC News. The court said that since the law was passed illegally in the first place, it wouldn't rule on whether it was discriminatory.
This is just a small step for human rights in Uganda. The February anti-homosexuality law only increased punishment on existing laws — being gay is still illegal. The annulled law was just more detailed: "aggravated homosexuality" included having sex while HIV-positive and was punishable with life imprisonment, and promoting homosexuality could get 5-7 years in prison.
The ruling also doesn't reflect a change in the way Ugandans view homosexuality. Supporters of the law argued that this was the West pushing its ideas on the country — several western countries withdrew aid after the ruling. That argument is ironic, considering it was American evangelicals who helped craft the law in the first place.
This article was originally published at http://www.thewire.com/global/2014/08/a-technicality-not-a-change-of-heart-defeated-ugandas-anti-gay-law/375440/