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.”
In recent months and days, Lokodo:
- arranged for police to break up LGBT-friendy meetings in February and on June 18,
- announced that 38 gay-friendly organizations will be banned, and
- threatened legal action against a proposed interfaith Compass to Compassion conference at which religious and political leaders would discuss the effects of the country’s laws against homosexuality.
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.
- Uganda to ban 38 groups that promote gay rights (76crimes.com)
- Uganda police raid LGBT workshop (76crimes.com)
- Uganda president: I’ll block ‘Kill the Gays’ bill (76crimes.com)
- Simon Lokodo heads a quasi-Gestapo unit in Uganda (sebaspace.wordpress.com)
- Uganda official threatens planned interfaith conference (76crimes.com)
- Uganda bans 38 organisations accused of ‘promoting homosexuality’ (guardian.co.uk)