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Ugandan court rules controversial anti-gay law invalid and unconstitutional

President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni speaks during the London Summit on Family Planning on July 11, 2012 in London, England. The London Summit on Family Planning is organised by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with the UNFPA (United Nations Population
President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni speaks during the London Summit on Family Planning on July 11, 2012 in London, England. The London Summit on Family Planning is organised by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with the UNFPA (United Nations Population
Photo by WPA Pool/Getty Images

An anti-gay law signed into law earlier this year has been ruled invalid by a Ugandan court on Friday. It was a ruling that brought joy and signs of encouragement to gay rights activists who witnessed a ruling. A panel of five judges determined that the anti-gay bill was illegally passed and is now “null and void.”

In a further explanation, the panel said the speaker of the parliament acted illegally when she allowed a vote on the measure despite objections over a lack of quorum. The court said, “The speaker was obliged to ensure that there was quorum. We come to the conclusion that she acted illegally.”

The law passed by lawmakers in December and enacted in February by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has led to many countries withholding funding from the East African country, mainly the United States. The harsh nature of the anti-gay bill challenged the human rights of its citizens and made life in Uganda for gays and lesbians miserable and basically unbearable.

Under the law, gays and lesbians found guilty of engaging in gay sex could face life in prison. The most extreme offense is “aggravated homosexuality” defined as acts in which one person is infected with HIV, “serial offenders” and sex with minors. Other offenses that could land jail time include “attempted homosexuality” and the “promotion of homosexuality,” which lawmakers claimed was a means to protecting African children. Museveni stood behind the bill

Uganda is one of a few African nations where acts of homosexuality are punishable. Although the bill was thrown out based on a technicality, it does temporarily halt the extreme nature of punishment handed down to those who are simply living their lives by following their hearts. Those who reach out to gays and lesbians or show any kind of support can also be imprisoned for committing a criminal act.