Uganda’s first LGBT centre under threat but activists are defiant

Uganda’s chief homophobe, Minister for Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo has lashed out at plans to open an LGBT community and arts center.

The non-profit group Rainbow Riots recently announced a campaign to fundraise for the launch of the centre in the capital Kampala in 2019. It would be the first such facility in East Africa.

News of their plans was slammed by Lokodo. “They will have to take it somewhere else. They can’t open a centre of LGBT activity here. Homosexuality is not allowed and completely unacceptable in Uganda,” he told The Guardian.

“We don’t and can’t allow it. LGBT activities are already banned and criminalised in this country. So popularising it is only committing a crime.”

In August last year, Rainbow Riots held a secret Pride celebration in Kampala after Pride Uganda was banned. It has also released a protest music album featuring LGBT artists from Uganda, Malawi, South Africa and Jamaica.

Petter Wallenberg, Director of Rainbow Riots, said that the organisation will not be dissuaded by Lokodo’s threats and that fundraising would continue.

“The centre will be a safe space to welcome the Ugandan LGBT community,” commented Wallenberg. “With creative expression at the core of the activities, we will create inclusivity within the community whilst also reaching a wider audience through giving Ugandan LGBT people an important voice in the world.”

He added: “I want everyone around the world to help us fight against the horrific injustice against LGBT people in Uganda. By creating this centre we can take a stand for every human’s right to equality and love.”

Minister Simon Lokodo

In September, Lokodo attempted to ban the Nyege Nyege international music festival because he said it would be a “celebration and recruitment of young people into homosexuality”. After other government minsters intervened, the event was allowed to go ahead.

A former Catholic priest, the farcical but dangerous Lokodo has long been a thorn in the side of Uganda’s LGBT community. He has banned Pride events, led raids on workshops and even claimed he would acquire a South Korean machine that could track down gay people.

Colonial-era legislation criminalises gay sex in Uganda, allowing the courts to imprison anyone found guilty of homosexuality for life.

To contribute to Uganda’s LGBT community centre click here.

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