LGBTIQ community in Uganda demand their right to assemble

Ethics and Integrity Minister, Simon Lokodo

Over the last seven years, police in Uganda have forced or threatened the closure of LGBTIQ events and Prides despite there being no constitutional basis to do so. Now activists are fighting back.

Many of these oppressive actions have been led by Uganda’s notoriously homophobic Ethics and Integrity Minister, Simon Lokodo, who has often made clear his hatred of the LGBTIQ community.

In 2012, he personally led a contingent of police to shut down a gay rights workshop and arrest the organiser for holding an “illegal assembly”

In one of the most violent incident, police brutally raided the Mr/Ms/Mx Uganda pageant in 2016, leading to a number of participants being beaten, abused and threatened, with some suffering injuries.

In 2017, plans to hold a Pride festival were thwarted when Lokodo threatened organisers with arrest, violence, and police presence at intended venues.

The minister also shut down a 2018 conference focusing on key populations affected by HIV/AIDs and ordered heavily armed police to close an International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) event.

Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) a network of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex organisations in Uganda, has now launched a petition demanding that their constitutional right to freedom of assembly be respected.

“Lokodo has repeatedly interrupted, shut down and continued to do everything in his power to intimidate, coerce and invade basic human rights to Ugandan LGBTI persons, the very rights that are inherent and engraved in the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda according to Article 29,” says SMUG.

Dr Frank Mugisha, the Executive Director of SMUG says he is “utterly appalled” by the minister’s actions. “We shall not allow this intimidation; the constitution grants us freedom of assembly, the struggle will go on,” he adds.

The petition reads: “We urge the Minister of Ethics and Integrity to desist from intimidating LGBTIQ leaders, shutting down peaceful LGBTIQ events, use of excessive force on unarmed, non-violent citizens and abuse of public resources.”

Under colonial-era legislation, gay sex remains illegal in Uganda, allowing the courts to imprison anyone found guilty of homosexuality for life.

Sign the petition here.

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