Amnesty International is calling for an end to harassment of LGBT people in Uganda following a raid on a gay activism workshop in its capital Kampala.
Accompanied by police, the Ugandan Minister for Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo reportedly raided the workshop, claiming it was illegal. He ordered the LGBT rights activists out of their hotel venue, saying that if they did not leave immediately, force would be used against them.
The Minister also attempted to order the arrest of Kasha Jacqueline Nabagasera, a prominent LGBT rights activist and winner of the 2011 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. She was forced to flee from the hotel.
Amnesty International is now calling on Uganda to end its outrageous harassment of people involved in lawful activities.
“This is an outrageous attempt to prevent lawful and peaceful activities of human rights defenders in Uganda,” says Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty.
“The Government of Uganda must protect all people against threats, violence and harassment irrespective of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.”
This latest strike against the rights of the African country’s LGBT citizens comes as Uganda’s controversial homophobic bill reemerges in Parliament. An original version of the bill sanctioned the death penalty for some homosexual activities, but now just seeks to criminalise homosexual activity.
The Government of Uganda has at times sought to distance itself from the Bill, fearing its passing would lead to countries like the United States and Great Britain suspending their monetary aid.
Shetty says the world needs reassurance that the rights of Uganda’s LGBT citizens will be respected.
“The Government’s claimed opposition to the Bill needs to be supported through their actions. The Ugandan government must allow legitimate, peaceful gatherings of human rights defenders, including those working on LGBT rights,” she demands.
Some news reports since the raid on the LGBT rights workshop in Kampala suggest the organisers of the event are now in hiding for their safety.