Thursday, 21 June 2012

Uganda to ban gay rights organisations

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In 2010, the Ugandan newspaper Rolling Stone called for the
lynching of 100 gay men
Last year, the Ugandan government's shocking record on gay rights came to global attention as a result of attempts by MPs to introduce legislation imposing strict penalties for homosexuality. In the end the bill, which at one stage would have provided for the death penalty in certain cases, did not pass, although there have been attempts this year to reintroduce it into the Ugandan parliament.

However, while the anti-gay bill has so far remained off the statute books, a reminder of the severe difficulties faced by LGBT communities in Uganda comes with the news that the country's Minister for Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo has just announced that 38 NGOs will be banned because they "promote" homosexuality. While the organisations have not been named, it appears clear from the minister's comments that they will include many groups working to defend gay rights:
"I have investigated and established beyond reasonable doubt that these NGOs have been involved in the promotion and recruitment in terms of the 'gay' issues. The sooner we can do this the better."
Gay Ugandans have long been the victims of severe persecution, spearheaded by political and religious leaders, as well leading newspapers, which regularly publish articles inciting homophobic discrimination and violence. In 2010, the Rolling Stone newspaper published a list of 100 Ugandans, complete with photos, calling for them to be hanged for being gay, and three months later one of the men named by the paper, the gay rights activist David Kato, was murdered in his home in Kampala.

While the situation in Uganda has probably received the most attention globally, neighbouring countries in East Africa have equally poor records on gay rights. Indeed, just this morning Pink News reported on a recent article in the Ethiopian newspaper Yenga daily which warned of a gay "infestation" in the country, and suggested that homosexuality is being "exported" into Ethiopia by foreign agents such as the UN, NGOs, European countries and the USA.


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