Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Uganda's fight for gay rights

Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda.

Uganda has announced a ban on 38 non-governmental organisations it accuses of undermining the national culture by promoting homosexuality.

Simon Lokodo, the country's ethics and integrity minister, claimed the NGOs were receiving support from abroad for Uganda's homosexuals and "recruiting" young children into homosexuality. "I have established beyond reasonable doubt that the 38 NGOs, if not even more, exist not for humanitarian reasons but to destroy the traditions and culture of this country by promoting homosexuality," he said. "We found that, on the pretext of humanitarian concerns, these organisations are being used to promote negative cultures. They are encouraging homosexuality as if it is the best form of sexual behaviour." The former Catholic priest said he believes the ban will come into a force next week. "If the NGOs continue to operate, they will be doing so illegally, they will be apprehended and will have to face a court of law."

Frank Mugisha, head of the NGO Sexual Minorities Uganda, said the minister's ban was part of a wider assault on civil society in Uganda. "The government is trying to use homosexuality to crack down on freedom of expression and freedom of assembly," he said. "If NGOs are closed down, they will not be able to support human rights. Simon Lokodo is very homophobic but it's coupled with politics. He's trying to gain popularity and make his name."

Sexual Minorities Uganda would defy any ban, insisted Mugisha.

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