A Ugandan cabinet minister has raided an LGBT-rights workshop in a hotel outside Kampala, Amnesty International claims.
The human rights group said Minister for Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo, flanked by police, burst into the gay rights meeting claiming the gathering was illegal and said activists had to vacate the building or force would be used against them.
The incident, also reported in a Ugandan daily newspaper, comes days after the reintroduction of the country’s notorious ‘Kill the Gays’ bill to Parliament last week.
Amnesty International secretary general Salil Shetty (pictured) labelled the raid “outrageous” and called on the Ugandan Government to protect its LGBT citizens.
“This is an outrageous attempt to prevent lawful and peaceful activities of human rights defenders in Uganda,” Shetty said.
Amnesty International also claim Lokodo attempted to arrest well-known LGBT rights activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagasera, who was forced to flee the meeting.
“The Government of Uganda must protect all people against threats, violence and harassment irrespective of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity,” Shetty said.
Shetty said that while the Government has rejected support for anti-gay legislation currently before Parliament, more needs to be done.
“The Government’s claimed opposition to the bill needs to be supported through their actions,” Shetty said.
“The Ugandan government must allow legitimate, peaceful gatherings of human rights defenders, including those working on LGBT rights.”
The reintroduced anti-gay bill has been rewritten by its author David Bahati to remove the death penalty provision, leaving life imprisonment as the maximum sentence for what he calls ‘aggravated homosexuality’.
The Ugandan government has released a statement distancing itself from the bill.
“The bill itself was introduced by a backbencher. It does not form part of the government’s legislative programme and it does not enjoy the support of the prime minister or the cabinet,” the statement read.
“However, as Uganda is a constitutional democracy, it is appropriate that if a private member’s bill is presented to parliament it be debated.”
Amnesty has started a petition calling for the bill to be blocked.