While a national media campaign by Ugandan gay activists to promote equal rights winds down, the country’s Minister for Ethics and Integrity has vowed to block their efforts.

Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), the umbrella body of four Ugandan LGBTI organisations, announced on Tuesday that it was concluding the “Let Us Live in Peace” campaign.

“In 45 days of public conversation with the media, we, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex Ugandans, opened up our lives and shared stories about our experiences with the nation. The intensive dialogue on TV and radio stations and in newspapers brought about changed attitudes, increased understanding, and respect for homosexuals’ right to be left to live in peace,” said SMUG in a statement.

“Through the media campaign, we wanted to have a dialogue with our own people. We wanted to start a discussion, for people to know the real picture of who we are, not just harmful myths,” explained Frank Mugisha, a member of the board of representatives of SMUG and chairperson of Icebreakers Uganda.

The media campaign was launched on 16 August with a remarkable press conference in which eight Ugandan homosexual and transgender persons, some wearing masks, shared their experiences.

However, according to Uganda’s New Vision website, on Tuesday, the country’s Minister for Ethics and Integrity, James Nsaba Buturo, committed himself and the government to fight the recognition of rights for LGBT people.

“The Government shall do whatever it takes to block the spread of homosexuality,” he is quoted as saying, adding that, “They are trying to impose a strange, ungodly, unhealthy, unnatural, and immoral way of life on the rest of our society.”

“I will endeavour to block it. I can assure you on that. Let them go to another country, and not here,” he said.

Nevertheless, SMUG has thanked members of the general public who participated in its campaign:

“Even as we close this public campaign, I would like to urge you to leave the dialogue space open in your hearts, in your homes, schools, markets, and places of work. Our desire is to live calm lives in this beloved country of ours. Although we are no longer proclaiming from the media houses, our words still ring in every home, ‘Let Us Live in Peace,’” said Julian Pepe, Office Administrator of SMUG.

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