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Africa Table: Reversing Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Act: Lessons from Legal Activism in Defending Sexual Minorities in Africa

April 15, 2015 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Room 202, Encina Hall West, 417 Galvez Mall

Lunch will be served.

Join the Center for African Studies for our weekly lunchtime lecture series.

This event is part of the Spring Series on Civil Liberties and Human Rights Protection in Africa

Ugandan lawyer and activist Nicholas Opiyo will be sharing a recent successful court battle to overturn and repeal Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act [AHA]. The law, which criminalizes homosexuality and imposes lengthy prison sentences, was passed in 2014 but subsequently outlawed by the courts following a case filed by activists and argued amongst others by Mr. Opiyo. A controversial piece of legislation, the AHA attracted international condemnation and led to aid cuts to the East African nation which is part of a growing number of countries in Africa and elsewhere that enacted similar laws. Activists increasingly rely on public interest litigation to pressure governments to change, though not always successfully. 

Nicholas Opiyo is a former Secretary of the Ugandan bar association and a vocal defender of human rights outside the courts as regular commentator on public affairs. He heads Chapter Four Uganda – a legal charity and think tank named after Chapter Four, the bill of rights in Uganda’s constitution. As well as consulting widely on human rights related issues for the World Bank and other international agencies, he leads a team of lawyers seeking out strategic litigation in defense of human rights and providing immediate legal representation to human rights defenders. His public interest cases include challenges to Uganda’s anti-pornography law, discrimination under the HIV Prevention and Control Act, Uganda’s laws on defamation and freedom of expression amongst others. He is also engaged in litigation before the regional East African Court of Justice as well before the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights.

Sponsored by the Stanford Initiative For Religious and Ethnic Understanding and Coexistence, supported by the President’s Fund, the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE), Religious Studies, and the Taube Center for Jewish Studies. Co-sponsored by the Center for African Studies, the WSD Handa Center for Human Rights & International Justice, the Haas Center for Public Service, Stanford Global Studies, Stanford in Government, the Stanford Forum for African Studies, the Stanford African Students Association, the Stanford Association for International Development, and the Nigerian Students Association.

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