16th August 2017
Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) a network of lesbian gay bisexual transgender and intersex organizations in Uganda strongly condemns the Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Fr. Simon Lokodo’s directive that led to the halting of the Pride Uganda 2017 opening Gala scheduled for today at the Sheraton Hotel in Kampala. This cancellation comes after negotiations with the Minister who 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, Rights that are inherent and engraved in the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda.
“Pride is about celebrating who we are, giving courage and hope to those LGBTI individuals who are living lonely and isolated lives in hostile communities, for them to know they are not alone.” Dr. Frank Mugisha, the Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, utterly appalled by the Minister’s actions he adds, “We shall not allow this intimidation, the constitution grants us freedom of assembly, the struggle will go on.”
This comes as a shock to Ugandan LGBTI community because just two weeks ago Minister Lokodo in his office welcomed and spoke with SMUG officials, Pride organizers and allies in meeting organized by Sexual Minorities Uganda. We had seen a ray of hope, because the meeting was civil and respectful compared to other encounters we have had with him in the past. But today feels like that wicked stab in the back from someone we thought we had made some gains with like he had shown. Minister Lokodo was clear on three issues; he said, “You can have your activities, but remember I do not want promotion, recruitment, and exhibition.” We guarantee fellow Ugandans that these three activities are not part of this event.
“This is a direct attack on LGBTI citizens’ right to peacefully assemble.” Stated Pepe Julian Onziema, SMUG’s Programs Director/In-charge of Advocacy. “Ironically this comes as SMUG marks the 10th anniversary of our ‘Let US Live in Peace’ campaign held in 2007. It is heart drenching that we are still saying the same today. Let us live in peace.”
SMUG together with Pride Uganda Committee and allies have worked tirelessly to make sure nothing goes wrong and no one is harmed this time round, learning from the attack on Pride Uganda 2016. All requirements including informing police and getting a letter of permission to assemble were once again fulfilled. However, it has been reported that Uganda Police Officers have been deployed at Sheraton Hotel and other venues of Pride; this time once again not to protect, but to arrest anyone participating in Uganda LGBTI Pride activities.
“Fr. Lokodo’s punitive actions are pathetic and inexcusable.” Mr. Onziema added, “This is the struggle at its realest test yet again, we must stand firm and reject this form and any other form of violation of sexual and gender minorities in Uganda. Say no to robbers of rights.”
Sexual Minorities Uganda calls upon:
· The LGBTI community stand firm to reject and report any form of violations they face as the aftermath of the closure of today’s event.
· The Friends of SMUG, Civil Society and other allies in Uganda, across Africa and the globe to speak-up against such cowardly acts of intimidation and violations of human rights.
· The Uganda Police Force, we urge that you practice impartiality and uphold your motto “To Serve and Protect” equally and equitably. Police duty is to facilitate peaceful assembly not to block them.
· The Government of Uganda, the law of this land Uganda- the Constitution permits full and equal enjoyment of rights such as the Freedom of peaceful assembly, association and expression. We urge that you duly protect all Ugandans equally at all times. Condemn these punitive acts of Minister Lokodo and the police.
· The Diplomatic Community in Uganda, to take note of these violations and condemn the violations; the LGBTI community hears your loud silence.
· Once again, the lesbian gay bisexual transgender intersex and queer persons in Uganda do not be afraid.