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Gay Rights Activists Vow to Fight Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill

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Douglas Mpuga

A Ugandan cabinet member yesterday raided a workshop being run by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists in Entebbe.

Minister for Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo declared the workshop illegal and ordered the rights activists out of the hotel where it was being held. He was accompanied by police,

The workshop was organized by Freedom and Roam Uganda, an association that lobbies for the recognition of same sex relationships in Uganda.

“I was surprised but not shocked,” said Kasha Jacqueline Nabagasera a prominent LGBT rights activist and winner of the 2011 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. She said Uganda’s record on human rights is deteriorating.

“What is surprising,” said Nabagesera, who heads the group Freedom and Roam Uganda, “is that the minister who is a legislator does not know the law.
The fact that a legislator doesn’t know the laws of the country is absurd and appalling.”

Nabagesera vowed to get the controversial [Anti-gay] bill now before parliament scrapped.

“All the positive articles in the bill are already provided for in the constitution and the penal code. This bill is very draconian and nothing good will come out of it,” she said.

The LGBT rights activist threatened to take the case to the Constitutional Court, and possibly to the International Court, should the bill gain passage in parliament.

“We are not going to sit back and see our people put to death because of some people’s fundamentalism” she said.

Nabagesera also threatened to sue the minister for violating the constitution.

“We are going to take action. We cannot let people abuse their power at the expense of others,” she said.

The anti-gay bill was re-introduced in Uganda’s parliament last week. Originally tabled in 2009, the bill calls for "serial offender[s]" to face the death penalty, and proposes jail sentences for family members and landlords who fail to report homosexuals to the authorities.

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