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Anti-porn law annulled in Uganda

The Ugandan constitutional court has annulled the controversial anti-pornography law passed in 2014.

The law was quashed by a unanimous decision from five judges, following a 2014 petition by several women’s rights organizations and human rights lawyers.

The government’s justification for the law was that prohibition of pornography would protect women and children, and society in general, from exposure to indecent media material.

The provisions of the law meant that certain types of songs or videos could be categorized under publication of pornography, and artists could face arrest and prosecution.

In 2015, musician Jemima Kansiime, also known as Panadol Wa’basajja ( medicine for men), was arrested over a raunchy song which euphemistically referred to men’s sexual prowess.

She was the first Ugandan to be prosecuted under the law, facing up to 10 years in prison, but her case was stayed pending the outcome of the petition to the constitutional court.

The constitutional court judges ruled late on Friday that there was no evidence of a pressing objective to the prohibition of pornography.

They further ruled that there was no specific harm that would occur to society if acts or material that elicit sexual excitement are not prohibited.

The legislation provided for the establishment of a nine-member pornography control committee, whose job was to detect and prohibit the spread of pornography in Uganda.

During the inauguration of the committee in 2017, then Ethics Minister Fr Simon Lokodo told the media that pornography was “one of the deadliest moral diseases in this country”.

The ruling now disbands the committee. The government has not commented on the ruling.

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