Uganda 'gay' trial dimissed due to lack of evidence

Defendants Jackson Mukasa (left) and Kim Mukisa react at the courthouse in capital Kampala after a Ugandan judge dismissed the case against them on charges of having homosexual sex on October 22, 2014 (AFP Photo/Emmanuel Lerroux-Nega) (AFP)

Kampala (AFP) - A Ugandan judge dismissed the case Wednesday of two men accused of having homosexual sex, the first since tough laws were repealed, their lawyer said.

Kim Mukisa and Jackson Mukasa, who had rejected all accusations since their arrest in January, celebrated as they left court, an AFP reporter said.

"The case has been dismissed in favour of my clients... the prosecution has not been able to produce the witnesses," lawyer Fridah Mutesi told AFP.

They were arrested just weeks before President Yoweri Museveni passed a law further criminalising homosexuality in the socially conservative east African nation, and accused of living "as husband and wife".

Museveni's signing of new anti-gay laws drew international condemnation, with US Secretary of State John Kerry likening it to anti-Semitic legislation in Nazi Germany.

The anti-gay law signed by Museveni has since been revoked on a technicality, but the pair were charged under a 1950s penal code which remains in force and prescribes jail for those found guilty of homosexual acts.

Critics said Museveni signed the law to win domestic support ahead of a presidential election scheduled for 2016, which will be his 30th year in power.