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Uganda aims to ‘weed out’ gay-friendly human rights groups

Hilary Onek, Ugandan interior minister (Photo courtesy of NTV)
Hilary Onek, Ugandan interior affairs minister (Photo courtesy of NTV)

Uganda has started a probe of human rights organizations, seeking pro-LGBT advocates and promising to “take action” against them, NTV reports.  Gay-friendly activists in Uganda say the new campaign is based on misinformation.

Internal Affairs Minister Hilary Onek announced today that the government is investigating non-government organizations that advocate human rights but “try to propagate homosexualism and lesbianism.”

Under that cover, he claimed, those groups lead children “in the wrong directions. We cannot accept that. That we are going to fight to make sure we don’t allow them to derail our society, push them into evil.”

Onek said the government is “screening them and we shall ensure that we will clean our society a bit from so-called ‘friends.’ ”

Bishop Christopher Senyonjo
Bishop Christopher Senyonjo of Uganda

Anglican Bishop Christopher Senyonjo said,  “It is indeed worrying to hear the accusations leveled against the gay-friendly rights groups.”

Senyonjo leads the St. Paul’s Centre for Reconciilation and Equality, which provides counseling and health services to both straight and LGBT people in Uganda.

He said the government’s actions are based on “misinformation and ignorance about the subject of human sexuality. So false alarms are made that there is a move to promote homosexuality in schools and children are being recruited into this evil behavior.”

Legislation currently before the Ugandan parliament would not only tighter laws against homosexual activities, but also would punish gay-friendly organizations, Senyonjo said.

Under the bill, if a non-governmental organization is found to have promoted same-sex activity, its registration certificate would be cancelled and its director would be liable to imprisonment for up to seven years.

“The situation is outrageous,” he said.

The NTV report said the government is “conducting checks to weed out any suspected culprits,” but Onek did not specify what action would be taken against organizations that the government concludes are promoting homosexuality.

Recent government actions have included raids that dispersed meetings of LGBT-friendly groups, as well as the Aug. 1 raid of the country’s first pride march in Entebbe. Activists are seeking court action declaring those raids illegal.

Simon Lokodo, Uganda ethics minister (Photo courtesy of GayKenya.com)
Simon Lokodo, Ugandan ethics minister (Photo courtesy of GayKenya.com)

In June, Ugandan Ethics Minister Simon Lokodo said the government plans to ban 38 groups it accuses of promoting homosexuality in the guise of promoting gay rights, Reuters reported.

A transcript taken from the NTV video report is below.

Reporter: The discussion around homosexuality is back and, this time around, government is turning its guns on non-government organizations that promote the vice, hiding under the umbrella of protecting and promoting human rights. Today Internal Affairs Minister Hilary Onek revealed that government is investigating non-government organizations that promote moral decadence among Ugandans, hiding behind human rights advocacy.

Onek: If some were to come [presenting their goal as] advocacy of human rights, and then, under those cover, being used [to promote] cultures that are not even acceptable. Some even try to propagate homosexualism and lesbianism. But the cover [they use is] of human rights [which they use] to induce those children in the wrong directions. We cannot accept that. That we are going to fight to make sure we don’t allow them to derail our society, push them into evil.

Reporter: Onek said his ministry is already sieving out and conducting checks to weed out any suspected culprits, and their action will be taken soon.

Onek: … in Uganda we are screening them and we shall ensure that we will clean our society a bit from so-called friends, within brackets.

Reporter: The minister made these revelations at the launch of the third meeting of the East African Community of Chiefs of Prisons ….

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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