“Justice has come in Uganda! The shouts of excitement and tears of joy from African transgender, lesbian, and gay Human Rights Defenders can still be felt from the court room and all around the continent. On 22 December 2008, the High Court of Uganda ruled on Victor Mukasa and Oyoo’s case, declaring that Ugandan constitutional rights apply to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT/Kuchu) people regardless of whether they are homosexual or transgender.
Victor Juliet Mukasa brought this case against the Attorney General of Uganda when government officials illegally raided Victor’s home without a search warrant, seizing documents related to Victor’s work as a Human Rights Defender for people who are transgender, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and intersex. The officials illegally arrested a guest at Victor?s home, Oyoo, and treated Victor and the guest in an inhuman and degrading manner amounting to sexual harassment and indecent assault.
Yesterday the High Court of Uganda ruled that the government violated the rights of Victor Mukasa and Oyoo. The government will be required to pay damages to both Victor and Oyoo for violating their rights, torturing them, and seizing Victor’s documents.
The final judgement on the case was issued yesterday to a court full of Ugandan lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people. Counsel Rwakafuzi recounted the historic moment that occurred yesterday when Justice Arach declared: “Human rights must be respected. It has been found that the actions of the officials that molested Victor Mukasa and Oyoo were unconstitutional, inhuman, and should be condemned.” Justice Arach called upon the international conventions and emphasised that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights enjoins us to respect human rights and protect them in a spirit of brotherhood, which includes sisterhood.
Justice Arach condemned the actions of the officials, declaring them to be inhuman and in direct violation of the Victor Mukasa and Oyoo’s constitutional rights to freedom from torture and freedom from invasion of privacy.
The case, Yvonne Oyoo and Juliet Mukasa v. the Attorney General, was a civil case filed as an application under Article 50 of the Constitution of Uganda for the enforcement of fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed in Articles 20 – 45 of the Constitution. The purpose of the case was to establish precedent in the enforcement of Ugandan constitutional rights as applying to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT/Kuchu) people regardless of whether they are thought to be homosexual or transgender.
The judgement upheld the following articles of the Constitution of Uganda as applying to all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity and/or expression: Article 23, states that, “No person shall be deprived of personal liberty”. Article 24 on respect for human dignity and protection from inhuman treatment, states that, “No person shall be subjected to any form of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Article 27 concerning right to privacy of person, home and other property states that, “No person shall be subjected to: (a) unlawful search of the person, home or other property of that person; or (b) unlawful entry by others of the premises of that person or property. No person shall be subjected to interference with the privacy of that person’s home, correspondence, communication or other property.”