WHEN Trinity Western University in Canada wanted to establish a new law school, it ran into unusual difficulties with three law societies in that country. TWU insists that all staff and student must sign a “community covenant” agreeing that the only healthy form of sexuality is in marriage. And only in marriage between a man and a woman. No sexual intimacy outside marriage would thus be tolerated on campus, and no same-sex relationship in or out of marriage. The law societies challenged the idea of such a law school saying it would not be in the public interest to accredit a school with a discriminatory admission policy such as this. Among the witnesses heard in the lower courts were students who described the oppressiveness of such a policy. On appeal to the highest court the law societies prevailed, with that court finding that, since they had a mandate to protect public interest, the law societies were obliged to protect equality and human rights. Their objectives included ensuring equal access to the profession, diversity at the bar and the prevention of harm to LGBTQ students.
THE high court in Kenya has declared that the firearms licensing board acted unconstitutionally when it revoked the licence of a controversial politician. The letter informing Senator Johnson Muthama that he could no longer legally possess a firearm was part of a crack-down on opposition figures who protested after the results of last year’s second national elections were confirmed. But the board gave no reasons for its decision and did not allow Muthama an opportunity to put his view on the proposed ban. After an interim order preventing the board from revoking the licence, the high court has now given a full judgment upholding Muthama’s rights to fair administrative action. While some of the tension between the ruling party and the opposition appears to have eased in the meantime, the decision is still important as it shows the courts prepared to hold everyone to constitutional standards of decision-making.
TOP courts rarely revisit their own decisions and own up to being wrong. But Zimbabwe’s supreme court has done exactly that, finding that a key section of a 2004 judgment was wrong. Not just that: the mistake has had to be admitted under the watchful eye of the world’s international organizations, all of whom were potentially affected by the outcome. To make matters even more sensitive, one of the judges who concurred in the earlier decision has now been the author of the correction, none other than the president chief justice, Luke Malaba.
Constitutional Court judge quotes Fanon: to “strip someone of their source of livelihood, then you strip them of their dignity too”
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