In rebuke, Uganda says gays will be allowed to meet

Ugandan police at June 18 raid. (Photo courtesy of NTV. Click for video.)
Ugandan police at June 18 raid. (Photo courtesy of NTV. Click for video.)

The Ugandan government is backing away, at least publicly, from ethics minister Simon Lokodo’s recent crackdowns on meetings of people seeking recognition of LGBT rights as human rights.

In a government statement today (June 22) that Lokodo signed, Uganda said it does not discriminate against people “of a different sexual orientation.”

“No government official is (supposed) to harass any section of the community and everybody in Uganda enjoys the freedom to lawfully assemble and associate freely with others,” the statement said.

The statement noted other countries’ laws against homosexuality and urged “all Ugandans to be vigilant and stay away from unlawful activities that would get them in trouble with the law.”

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

In recent months and days, Lokodo:

His actions have prompted growing international criticism and a lawsuit by gay rights activists, who charge that  Lokodo’s disruption of the February workshop violated their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of assembly. The trial in that case is scheduled to start June 25.

The Associated Press quoted an unnamed Ugandan official as saying that Lokodo had been instructed in a closed-door meeting to tone down his anti-gay rhetoric and sign the statement.  AP reported:

“He was going into issues of morality and he was giving unnecessary interviews,” the official said of Lokodo. The official was interviewed on condition of anonymity to avoid reprisal for frankly discussing the behind-the-scenes actions.

LGBT activist Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, commented, “We’ve really challenged Lokodo now, as this statement shows. He’s facing the pressure.”

Under current Ugandan law, homosexual activity can be punished by life imprisonment.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. 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 at info@76crimes.com.

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