This past week, Kampala police conducted a violent raid on a private Pride peaceful pageant at Club Venom in Uganda, which resulted in several injuries, calling into question the constitutionality and lawfulness of police action. From the evidence at hand and clear admissions it seems that Fr. Simon Lokodo, the Minister of Ethics and Integrity ordered the attack against the group of about hundred attendees. The Minister continues to threaten the community, resulting in the cancellation of the remaining Pride events.
The African Human Rights Coalition (African HRC) vehemently condemns the brutal police attack against peaceful innocent pageant attendees at Club Venom this week in Uganda. We further condemn, in the strongest terms, the continued threats of the Ugandan government by Minister Lokodo, and the incitement of further acts of violence against the innocent and good citizens of Uganda, who merely wish to enjoy their basic freedom and to exercise the very basic human right to peaceful and lawful assembly. The Minister’s subsequent threats against the LGBTI community of Uganda, indicate that he has abused his power, and once again, is acting outside the realm of the law, using the Kampala police to instill fear and terror, in an attempt to intimidate the LGBT community to prevent them from further celebration. This breach of basic human rights, has served to condone police brutality and has been noted as an attempt by Lokodo to incite so called “mob justice” and genocidal behavior at the hands of the community at large.
The police stormed into the beauty pageant wielding machine guns and then cordoned off the building and surrounding streets, while its armed officers whipped and beat patrons, as well as sexually abused some of the contestants, through feeling and fondling, in a feigned attempt to determine gender.
Approximately 16 Ugandan LGBT activists, including some people who African HRC has worked with, were arrested and held for hours. One young man was so startled that he jumped from the fourth floor of the building and is currently in critical condition in hospital with broken vertebrae.
Activists have been forced to cancel the main Pride Parade event under threat of further violence by the Minister, the armed forces and the populace at large.
The Minister attempted to justify the attack with a feeble statement accusing the event organizers of failing to obtain the necessary permitting, alleging that there were over a thousand people at the event, and suggesting they were in danger. This is laughable and an absolute lie. Organizers contesting this assertion have said that they obeyed the law, conforming to all that was required legally for the event. In any event, even if Lokodo’s skewered version is correct, there is absolutely no justification for the violent and abusive manner of the raid. The police could have walked in without pointing machine guns and gently gone about their business. There was absolutely no danger or threat imposed by the patrons.
Lokodo’s vengeance against LGBTI Ugandans is a clear visceral reaction to the Ugandan government losing the legal battle that invalidated the Anti Homosexuality Act back in 2014. This loss has resulted in what now appears to be a terror war waged by the government against the LGBTI community. The Anti Homosexuality Act was stripped of validity as it did not pass with a proper parliamentary quorum. This means that the current law criminalizing homosexuality is the old and vague Penal Code, which condemns “acts against the order of nature.” The Penal Code does not contain the same anti- promotion clause that the invalidated Act had provided. Had the Act been in effect, and yet to be tested for its constitutionality, Lokodo may have had a reason to shut down such an event under the law. However Lokodo is now clearly filled with anger and determined to terrorize the LGBT community on behalf of the Ugandan Government .
Activists and attendees of the event in Uganda have expressed concern that the photographs taken by police will be made public and that this may endanger lives. The African Human Rights Coalition offers support and guidance to refugees and asylum seekers, as well as support for safe shelter for persecuted LGBT people in several African countries, including Uganda. While many people who were impacted by the raid have made contact with us, in an attempt to explore their options for safety and possible exile, others are digging their heals in, determined to fight for their rights and to express their pride in some form or another, defying the Ugandan government with a courageous online social media posting protests. Ugandans are expressing their Pride through social media postings such us those shown here – and the world is showing solidarity. FUNDS ARE BEING RAISED TO SUPPORT SAFE SHELTER AND EXILE AND TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS CAN BE MADE HERE:
UGANDAN PRIDE VIA SOCIAL MEDIA: