Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo
There’s been another victory for the Uganda anti-gay camp. A campaign by the homophobic minster of ethics to shut down LGBT groups has been firmly backed by the courts.
On Monday, the Uganda High Court ruled that Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo was legally justified in conducting a February 2012 raid on a private LGBT rights workshop at the Imperial Resort Beach Hotel in Entebbe.
Accompanied by a police escort, Lokodo personally closed down the workshop and threatened to arrest organiser Kasha Jacqueline Nabagasera, a prominent LGBT rights activist, after she challenged his order to disband the meeting.
Nabagesera and other activists, including Frank Mugisha, Julian Pepe Onziema, and Geoffrey Ogwaro, sued the minster on the grounds that he had violated their constitutional rights and that he had no legal grounds to stop the workshop.
According to a report by the activists’ legal team, Justice Stephen Musota disagreed.
He said in his long-awaited ruling that those attending the meeting were indeed taking part in an illegal activity because the event would “encourage” LGBT people to engage in homosexuality, which is illegal in Uganda.
Musota also ruled that the “protection of morals” and a country’s legal framework were legitimate reasons for limiting the constitutional rights of individuals and thus closing the workshop was not a violation of freedom of expression, freedom of assembly or the right to equality.
He further ruled that the minister could not be sued in his individual capacity and dismissed the case, ordering that the costs be paid by the activists.
Lokodo described the ruling to Uganda’s Daily Monitor as “fantastic” and “marvellous” and thanked the judge “for having looked into the values that are more positive for the public.”
On Twitter, Nabagasera said that the outcome of the case was “disheartening,” adding that “it’s official, workshops of lgbt pple are illegal in Uganda.” Buzzfeed reported that she plans to appeal the ruling.
The judgement could pave the way for Lokodo to continue to crack down on any groups that lobby for the rights of the LGBT community.
He has previously claimed that these groups are “going around implanting in the minds of small children and persons below 18 attitudes of perverted, disoriented feelings in their sexual expressions.”
Earlier this month, a refugee support organisation in Kampala was forced to shut down some of its operations due to its so-called “pro gay support,” while in April, Ugandan police raided an American-funded HIV clinic in Kampala on the basis that it was “recruiting” gay people.