Targeting of Ugandan LGBTI Community Intensifies
Washington, D.C. – Today, Human Rights First decried the ongoing targeting of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) organizations and activists in Uganda, noting the pattern of efforts to silence them and stop their work. In response to news reports that security operatives infiltrated LGBTI groups and planning meetings in an effort to gather “evidence” of their activism, Human Rights First’s Paul LeGendre said, “The right to freedom of assembly and speech is the right of all individuals, not just those with whom the Ugandan government agrees. These most recent reports detail another incident in a pattern of efforts to silence the LGBTI community that undermines fundamental human rights and should be publicly criticized by the United States and other nations who have prioritized the protection of all people regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity.” Earlier this week, the Ugandan government announced that it will ban 38 nongovernmental agencies that it claims are promoting gay rights. That announcement came one day after a government raid on a meeting attended by various organizations working to advance the human rights of LGBTI individuals. Among their primary concerns is the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which seeks to severely increase the penalties for consensual same-sex acts. In the wake of international condemnation of Lokodo’s announcement of the ban, he issued a statement claiming that “no government official is bent to harass any section of the community and everybody in Uganda enjoys the freedom to lawfully assemble and associate freely with others.” Despite that claim, this positive message was undermined by his grossly inaccurate claim that “promoting homosexuality” is illegal under Ugandan criminal law and his corresponding suggestion that those who promote gay rights do not enjoy the freedom to lawfully assemble and associate. While article 146 of the Penal Code does criminalize same-sex acts, it says nothing of the illegality of efforts to advance gay rights or “promote homosexuality.” Next week on July 6, a Kampala court is scheduled hear a lawsuit brought by civil society groups against Mr. Lokodo for his role in personally leading a February raid on a legitimate NGO gathering to address human rights violations in Uganda.