Simon Lokodo, Uganda’s laughably titled Minister of Ethics and Integrity, has affirmed his commitment to eradicating homosexuality in Uganda.
In an extensive interview with Uganda’s The Independent, Lokodo reveals an appalling lack of insight into democratic values and human rights, expressing a wide range of stereotyped and offensive views.
He explains that his mandate includes “rebuilding and promotion of ethics and integrity in society” but goes on to state that “human rights are not absolute and you cannot impose your own way of seeing things into another culture”.
Lokodo, who paints himself as a champion of “dignity, morality, modesty and decency” also trots out the tired claims that “what the western culture brings in the guise of liberty, freedom and human rights” is in contradiction with “African culture and Ugandan culture”.
He does not address, however, the very valid argument that much of the “morality” defended by his government and his ministry is itself “imported” into Africa by Western conservative Christians who have used the continent to propagate their ideology.
When it comes to LGBT rights, Lokodo states: “Ugandan laws are very clear; marriage between people of the same sex cannot be allowed and therefore we condemn it. When they come and say it is a human right we say that it is bestiality in the African culture.”
He adds: “For example we want to ban homosexuality and the way to do it is to come up with laws, sooner or later homosexuality will be unacceptable in this country, and whoever misbehaves will face the courts of laws, not me going to chase them with police.”
When asked about his previous threats to close down NGOs in support of LGBT rights, Lokodo explains: “I don’t admire a number of NGOs which come with an intention of promoting the social, economic development of this country but inject in wrong cultures from the west such as homosexuality and pornography.
“Instead of helping our children grow up with a culture of positively behaved persons, they are going to schools to tell these children that it is not bad to get a same sex partner.”
Further revealing a lack of understanding of democratic principles he adds that NGOs must be “constructive in their criticism” and not “sell the bad image of government”.
Lokodo, who affirms that “we want everybody decently dressed,” also responds to reports that Uganda’s Youth Minister had condoned the rape of young girls who wear revealing clothes.
“He said that he did not say girls dressed indecently should be raped. He said that it is a recipe for rape. He said that if a person is dressed in such a way, they can provoke a weak mind.
“In any case I associate with him in condemning rape and indecent dressing. Those two things are all criminal in the laws of this country and they are both unacceptable,” said Lokodo.
The minister rejects suggestions that his ministry has been more concerned with its witch-hunt against homosexuals instead of focusing on the more pressing issue of corruption, which he is also required to stem.
“I am not saying that we have ended corruption but the journey continues; we shall see that corruption curbed in this country and moral decadence is controlled,” he says.
Same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Uganda, with penalties including life imprisonment. The country’s pending Anti-Homosexuality Bill could add the death penalty as an additional punishment for repeat “offenders”.