On 18th September 2018, Human Rights Awareness And Promotion Forum (HRAPH) held a meeting to launch the dissemination of the booklet on Strategic Litigation On The Rights of LGBTI Persons In Uganda and the Fact Sheet On Resolution 275 of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights as part of the strategies in the fight against violence on the basis of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Uganda. Several key population organizations were represented by their Executive Directors and members. The meeting was facilitated by Susan Baluka, a legal officer from HRAPF who gave a presentation on the litigation of rights of LGBTI persons in Uganda.
Strategic Litigation is greatly an advocacy strategy employed to bring about social change and ultimately promote human rights. This has been proved to be an important tool used especially by Human Rights Defenders and LGBTI persons in Uganda to battle violations against Gender and Sexual Minorities since 2006, starting with the case of Victor Juliet Mukasa and another Vs the Attorney General. Well as we appreciate that the constitution guarantees the protection of human rights for all including LGBTI persons under the Bill of Rights, there are limitations under Section 43 of the constitution due to discrimination against the LGBTI community. Some examples were shared specifically in the health sector for instance; the plans by the Ministry of Health to scrap off programmes in relation to Gender and Sexual Minorities (MSMs, Sex Workers and transgender persons). Also Mama Condom’s intention to stop the supply of condoms and lubricants with claims that they promote homosexuality. This already violates the right to health for LGBTI persons. Other violations that were discussed were against rights to freedom of privacy, expression, assembly and association of the community. A typical example used to demonstrate this is the cancellation of the Pride event in 2016 that was hosted at Club Venom that was raided by the police comprised of brutality that caused bodily harm and unwarranted arrests of several LGBTI persons after declaring the gathering illegal.
Through strategic litigation, LGBTI rights defenders can use some articles in the constitution to challenge several violations against the LGBTI movement to cause the social change that we all desire. Articles 50, 52, 137 (3) of the constitution and the Alien Torts Statute of USA have contributed to successful litigation in prominent cases filed by LGBTI persons even though some have been lost while a few are still pending in the courts of law. Adrian Jjuuko, the Executive Director of HRAPH urged the young activists to persist despite the losses in some cases. He reminded them that they are the future of the movement so they should take charge and position themselves to be able to continue with the work being done. This is what it means to “Grow A Movement”, otherwise we are bound to fail if the movement has no replenishment.