FURTHER UPDATE – Tuesday 3 July
There have been further developments – the High Court hearing in Kampala (where LGBT and Human Rights activists took Ugandan Ethics Minister Simon Lokodo to court for shutting down a LGBT rights convention in Kampala earlier this year) has been adjourned until Friday 6 July. They claim his actions were “unlawful” and contravene the country’s constitutional right of assembly and their freedom of expression.
The Judge doesn’t seem very impartial but has pointed out there is a legal precedent supporting the LGBT activists case.
There’s more information at this link to a Gay Star News report. Some LGBT-friendly internet hackers are striking back as the Erasing 76 Crimes blog reports.
The Box Turtle Bulletin in a 22 June posting entitled Ugandan Gays Now Allowed To Meet? Anti-Homosexuality Bill “Shelved”? criticises recent inaccurate press coverage about the kill the gays bill. The Bill is very much alive and unreformed and now before Parliament.
The Bulletin also tells us that the ex-priest / Ethics Minister Simon Lokodo has been such a very bad boy that the Vatican has defrocked him. The anti-gay bill is currently in the hands of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee and still contains the execution clauses for repeat offenders and people living with HIV. Bahati said that Parliament would take up the bill during its next session – this has now just begun. Bahati should know what he’s talking about: he’s the caucus chairman for the ruling National Resistance Movement in the Ugandan Parliament.
UPDATE – Monday 25 June
The former Ugandan Catholic Priest, Simon Lokodo, who is Uganda’s ethics and integrity minister, has now been severely rapped over the knuckles and made to sign and issue a formal Ugandan government statement. Last week he gained worldwide notoriety by announcing that he wanted 38 non-governmental organisations banned because, he suggested, they undermine Uganda’s ‘national culture’, by ‘promoting homosexuality’. You can read details of his homophobic interventions below.
The statement is a Ugandan government exercise in damage limitation and an indirect rebuke to Simon Lokodo, Uganda’s ethics and integrity minister, who had broken up a gay rights workshop earlier in June and threatened the banning of international non-governmental human rights organisations supporting LGBT people in Uganda.
The Ethics Minister Simon Lokodo was obliged to issue and sign the government’s official statement, following critical international news reports. However he smuggled into the statement a justification and further indirect threats to LGBT people ans human rights activists.
Three days later he reverted to issuing more threats and will also have to defend his actions at the High Court in Kampala. Some people just seem to keep putting their foot in their mouth. First, here’s the government statement:
RESPONSE TO INTERNATIONAL CRITICISM ON THE ARREST OF GAY ACTIVISTS
June, 21 2012
Uganda has come under criticism for intervening in a gay activists’ meeting that was taking place at a Hotel in a city suburb early this week. Police intervened in the meeting that was suspected to be promoting gay activities and questioned the participants who were later released.
The Government would like to state that much as promoting gay activities is illegal according Section 145 of the Penal code Act, Uganda does not segregate against people of a different sexual orientation.
No government official is bent to harass any section of the community and that everybody in Uganda enjoys the freedom to lawfully assemble and associate freely with others.
Cultural attitudes in Africa are very different to elsewhere in the world, 2/3 of African countries outlaw homosexual activity and 80% of east African countries criminalize it. Whilst at a global level more than 80 countries outlaw homosexual acts.
The government would like to encourage all Ugandans to be vigilant and stay away from unlawful activities that would get them in trouble with the law.
Rev. Fr. Simon Lokodo
Minister of Ethics and Integrity
Only three days later, he’s reverted to his previous harassing behaviour and threats.
In an interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Ethics Minister Simon Lokodo vowed to continue disrupting LGBT rights meetings, the South African Press Agency reported.
“We will continue a crackdown on these gays by all means,” Lokodo said. “We cannot allow them to use meetings as platforms to promote their activities.”
He’s now being forced to appear in the High Court in Kampala today (Monday). LGBT and human rights activists took Lokodo to court for shutting down two conventions in Kampala this year. They claim his actions were “unlawful” and contravened the country’s constitution and freedom of expression.
Below is my original post reporting his homophobic harassment and threats of banning 38 international human rights and other organisations:
A former Ugandan Catholic Priest, Simon Lokodo, who is Uganda’s ethics and integrity minister, has announced he wants 38 non-governmental organisations banned because, he suggests, they undermine Uganda’s ‘national culture’, by ‘promoting homosexuality’.
He claimed the NGOs were receiving support from abroad for Uganda’s homosexuals and “recruiting” young children into homosexuality.
“The NGOs are channels through which monies are channelled to (homosexuals) to recruit,” the minister alleged.
He has not named any of the 38 organisations. The BBC reports Mr Lokodo has submitted his list of 38 organisations to the internal affairs ministry for them to be banned.
Organisations ‘exist to destroy Ugandan traditions and culture by promoting 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 on Wednesday. “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.”
Lokodo said the local and international non governmental organisations would be de-registered for ‘promoting homosexuality’.
“I have got a record of meetings that they have held to empower, enhance and recruit (homosexuals),” Lokodo claimed.
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.”
Lokodo said: “Homosexuality is illegal, unacceptable and strange to our culture. It doesn’t have any positive aspects at all. If homosexuality is promulgated and legitimised, that will be like having no future of society. There is no procreation between man and man or woman and woman. We condemn it very strongly.”
Forgotten your Catechism?
The ex-priest Minister seems to have completely forgotten the instructions in his Catechism, including ‘accepting’ LGBT people and avoiding all signs of ‘unjust discrimination’
2358 … They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.
Under Canon law priests are forbidden to enter politics: the Code of Canon Law (#285) tells clerics to refrain from “all those things which are unbecoming to their state, according to the prescripts of particular law.” This includes, in section 3, “Clerics are forbidden to assume public offices which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power.” Two and a half years after becoming an MP, a biography reported he was continuing to act as the priest in his parish in NE Uganda.
Anti-gay death penalty bill revived in Parliament
Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda under laws inherited at independence 50 years ago from colonial Britain. A bill calling for harsher penalties and outlawing the “promotion” of homosexuality, including providing financial support to gays and lesbians, is once again pending in the parliament.
A previous bill called for the death penalty for repeat offenders and people living with HIV, although the new version may drop this clause after international condemnation and threats to cut off aid.
Monday – he ordered break up of gay rights workshop
Last Monday he ordered the break-up of a gay rights workshop organised by the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project at a hotel just outside the capital, Kampala. Police wearing riot gear sealed off the venue for several hours. About 15 activists from Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania were questioned and later released without charge.
Police spokesman Idi Senkumbi told Reuters: “They were questioned on what exactly they were up to and the assembly they were involved in.”
Lokodo made a similar intervention in February when he stormed into a gay rights conference and tried to have one of the organisers arrested for insulting him.
Harassment of LGBT activists condemned as witch hunt
Amnesty International condemned the raid. “This ludicrous and senseless harassment of human rights activists has no basis in law whatsoever and has to stop,” said Michelle Kagari, its deputy director for Africa.
“The continued persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights activists by the Ugandan authorities is beginning to take on the sinister characteristics of a witch hunt.”
Assault on freedoms of assembly and free speech and renewed attempt to pass anti-gay 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. The president should come out and distance himself from Lokodo.”
Sexual Minorities Uganda would defy any ban, insisted Mugisha, winner of the Robert F Kennedy human rights award last year.
“We are definitely continuing our operations and we will still hold conferences. We will continue to ask for the oppressive laws that are being used to intimidate us to be abolished.
“They have said they are going to pass the bill before October. That won’t stop us. We shall continue to fight until all the legislation is cleared and we are free. Things are changing. It cannot be oppression forever.”
Mohammad Ndifuna, the director of Human Rights Network Uganda, another of the organisations likely to be banned, told Reuters:
“We know that they have been all kinds of threats coming towards the [NGO] sector for different reasons.”
In May, Uganda threatened to de-register the British charity Oxfam over accusations it made of government involvement in violent land grabs in the country.
Minister threatens interfaith homosexuality conference he was invited to co-chair
Again in May this year the Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo also threatened legal action against a proposed interfaith conference in Uganda for religious and political leaders to discuss the effects of the country’s laws against homosexuality. That was his response to the invitation he received to attend and co-chair the conference.
Sources The Guardian
Reuters Africa report
You may also be interested in what treating LGBT people with ‘respect, compassion and sensitivity’ really means in this post by Fr James Martin S.J.