Father Simon Lokodo, the Ugandan Minister of Ethics and Integrity, has caused uproar among human rights activists after daring President Obama and other Western leaders to stop giving aid to Uganda if the money is pinned to the country recognising the rights of gays and lesbians.
Father Lokodo said: “They are now at large but we are following them [LGBTI] and we are going to make sure that all is done to bring them to book. We want at least everybody to know that there is no room for homosexuality and lesbians in Uganda. We better die poor rather than lose our dignity as Ugandans.”
The Minister made the comments following yet another crackdown on LGBTI in Uganda.
The Uganda police raided a training workshop for human rights defenders on Monday 18 June. The workshop was organized by the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP). The police questioned participants one-by-one after forcibly entering their hotel rooms. A number were arrested, questioned and later released by the police.
EHAHRDP organized the training working at Esella Country Hotel, Najjera, Kampala on how LGBTI defenders can monitor, document and report human rights violations. The workshop brought together 20 human rights activists from Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya, and seven EHAHRDP staff members and interns.
The head of the Kampala Metropolitan Criminal Investigations Department questioned a number of people including Paul Njogore from Freedom House, Jane Wothaya Thirikwa from Gay Kenya Trust, Neil Blazevic, a Canadian citizen and Tabitha Netuwa from EHAHRDP. They were then held for some time in a police van and were told they would be taken to the Kira Road police station.
Julian Pepe, a LGBTI activist, said: “I am an LGBTI person so my community is a LGBTI community. The minister closed the meeting…for which we are seeking a legal redress. He is interfering with our right to association and right to information. But we are in court to challenge all this because we have courts of law.”
David Bahati, who tabled the anti-homosexuality bill in the Ugandan parliament, said: “We thank the police for dispersing the LGBTI. The chair of the legal and parliamentary committee affairs has promised us that the anti-gay bill will be brought to table in the next parliamentary session commencing next week.”
This bill, if passed into law, will criminalise all activities of LGBTI and their associates.