Groups Fighting to Protect the Civil Rights of the LGBTI Community Under Fire Again
TransAfrica condemns the Ugandan government’s discriminatory actions banning 38 non-governmental human rights organizations. Groups in Uganda that work to protect the civil rights of the vulnerable lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) population are accused of promoting homosexuality, recruiting children, and undermining the national culture. Simon Lokodo, the country’s ethics and integrity minister, told Reuters the organizations being targeted were receiving support from abroad for Uganda’s homosexuals, though he did not go on to say which specific NGOs have been banned.
This recent announcement follows a history of oppression of the LGBTI community in Uganda, where just this week Lokodo ordered the break up of a gay rights conference being held at a hotel outside of Kampala. Gay activists were detained and questioned for several hours, later being released without charge. A similar incident occurred in February when Lokodo stormed into a gay rights conference and attempted to have one of the organizers arrested.
"The Ugandan government has a long history of repression against political opponents and minority groups. The repeated attempts to marginalize and demonize the LGBTI community in Uganda is not rooted in traditional Ugandan or African values. Rather it is rooted in the hate-mongering of right wing Western organizations imposing their own brand of imperialism in Africa,” stated Nicole Lee, President of TransAfrica. “It is unfortunate that far too many political leaders in Uganda have fallen for that bait."
The Ugandan government’s actions pose a threat to the civil rights of all Ugandans; despite the anti-homosexual rhetoric which surrounds official efforts to silence the defenders of the LGBTI community, taking away the rights of any vulnerable population sets a dangerous precedent for all. Homosexuality remains illegal in Uganda and more than 30 countries in Africa. A bill which calls for harsh penalties against homosexuals and the “promotion” of homosexuality is currently pending in the Ugandan parliament.
This has not always the case. Capital punishment for so called “aggravated homosexuality” didn’t naturally emerge from Ugandan or African tradition. In the past decade, many U.S. conservative religious groups have been active in Uganda, recruiting a significant number of Ugandan politicians, religious leaders and others to campaign for the restriction of LGBTI rights. One aim of this is to establish credibility for ideas like “curing” people of homosexuality and eradicating all forms of LGBTI advocacy, with the idea that if these programs can succeed in Uganda, they can be successful in the United States.
TransAfrica, partner organizations in Uganda, and other organizations in the international community have repeatedly called on President Yoweri Museveni’s government to end its harassment of human rights activists.