KAMPALA — The Constitutional Court has quashed with costs, a controversial anti-pornography law following pressure from women’s rights groups.
The government introduced the legislation in 2014 to prohibit the spread of pornography, which it said would help protect women and children.
But critics say the law was misused, leading to women being attacked in the streets for wearing certain types of clothing, such as miniskirts.
A panel of five judges unanimously ruled that upto five sections of the law that defined pornographic offences, including a ban on “indecent” clothing, were unconstitutional.
The judges also directed the Attorney General (AG) to pay half of the legal costs incurred by the nine petitioners.
The court ruling means that no person can be indicted for the offence of pornography in Uganda under the Anti-Pornography Act.
The judges also said that no harm would occur to society if certain bans on acts or material that elicit sexual excitement were lifted.
Several women’s rights organisations and human rights lawyers had initially protested the law and urged authorities before filling a petition to the constitutional court.
The organisation Uganda Women’s Network said at the time that the legislation was in conflict with the country’s constitution, which guarantees equal rights for both sexes.
Under the law, song lyrics and music videos could also be categorised as pornographic, with artists facing arrest and jail.
Women rights groups including Center for Domestic Violence Prevention, Women organization Network for Human Rights Advocacy, Prof. Sylvia Tamale, Sarah Kihika, Lilian Drabo, Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa, Uganda Health and Scientific Press Association, Human Rights Network for Journalists and Lina Zedriga jointly filed petition.
The group was represented by Onyango Owor from Onyango & Company Advocates who have been at the forefront of successfully defending constitutional rights.
This means, a nine-member committee chaired Makerere University’s Dr. Annette Kezaabu Kasimbazi set up when the law was introduced to help prevent the spread of pornography in the country will now be disbanded.