Uganda Gay Pride Celebrations 2015
KAMPALA—For the second year in a row, the Ugandan government has canceled gay pride celebrations in the country’s capital.
Last week Wednesday, the country’s minister of ethics and integrity, Simon Lokodo, called for the shutting down of a pride gala set to take place at the Sheraton Hotel, claiming that the event was an “illegal attempt to promote homosexuality,” reports The Guardian.
“It’s true I ordered the police to stop and shut down all the gay pride events. No gay gathering and promotion can be allowed in Uganda. We can’t tolerate it at all,” said Lokodo.
“We know they are trying to recruit and promote homosexuality secretly,” he continued. “But it’s worse to attempt to stand and exhibit it in public arena. This is totally unacceptable. Never in Uganda.”
Police officers were deployed at the hotel and other venues where pride events were scheduled, to arrest anyone participating in activities.
LGBTQ advocates in the nation are outraged by the minister’s actions and the government’s blatant denial of human rights.
Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda under colonial-era laws, punishable by a jail sentence, but LGBTI campaigners were given hope in 2014 when attempts to introduce a bill that would make some homosexual acts punishable by death was ruled unconstitutional. Police granted permission for pride celebrations in 2015.
“We are utterly appalled by the minister’s actions. The government crackdown on our events is abuse of our freedom of assembly and association. We have a right granted by the Ugandan constitution,” said Frank Mugisha, the executive directive of Sexual Minorities Uganda (Smug), a network of LGBTI organisations in Uganda.
“It is sad and difficult. This is based on conservative views of our politicians … Pride is about celebrating who we are, giving courage and hope to those individuals who are living lonely and isolated lives in hostile communities, for them to know they are not alone. We shall not allow this intimidation. The struggle will go on.”
Nicholas Opiyo, executive director of Chapter Four Uganda, which protects civil liberties and promotes human rights, added: “The actions of the Ugandan security apparatus to threaten violence, intimidate the proprietors of booked venues for the events is a vile affront to the rights of the LGBT community to organise and celebrate their identity.
It is also a rude reminder that in spite of the nullification of the Anti-Homosexuality Act in 2014, the LGBT community still faces government-inspired and community-led safety concerns, many of which usually go unreported.”
The US and Swedish embassies in Kampala expressed dismay that pride events had been cancelled.
In a statement, the US mission said: “The US is disappointed with reports that the Ugandan government has forced the cancellation of LGBTI pride week events. Under Uganda’s constitution, all individuals and organisations have right to associate freely in private and in public, without fear.
“It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that human rights of all citizens, including LGBTI citizens, are respected and protected.”