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Uganda judge: Government should ‘infiltrate’ gay groups to prevent recruiting of children

Thursday, June 28, 2012
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KAMPALA, Uganda — A Ugandan judge this week said that the country’s security and interior ministries should “infiltrate” gay rights groups to ascertain if children are being “recruited into homosexuality.”

During opening arguments Monday in a lawsuit brought against a government minister by Ugandan LGBT activists, Justice Eldad Mwangushya of the Court of High Court said that rather than prohibiting LGBT people from holding meetings, ministry uncover operatives sould attend the meetings and hear what the “homosexuals” are discussing.

The suit was brought against Uganda’s Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo for forcing the closure of a LGBT advocacy workshop in February.

Frank Mugisha, a 2011 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award recipient, and activists Jacqueline Kasha Nabagesera, Julian Pepe Onziema and Geoffrey Ogwaro petitioned the Ugandan High court to pronounce that Lokodo’s closure of the workshop on Feb. 14, 2012 in Entebbe violated their freedom of assembly guaranteed under the Ugandan constitution.

The complaint reads in part: “That the action of the minister to order the closing of the workshop while no other workshop taking place at the same venue was closed was arbitrary and unjustified and constituted an infringement of the applicants’ and other participants’ right equal treatment before the law under article 21 of the constitution.”

Lokodo, who led the raid personally, accused the activists of recruiting children into the “homosexual lifestyle.”

On June 18, Lokodo forced his way into another meeting, this one was being convened by the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders, a local Ugandan organization and arrested the participants.

“I have got a record of meetings that they have held to empower, enhance and recruit [homosexuals],” Lokodo told reporters at the time. “I have investigated and established beyond reasonable doubt that these groups have been involved in the promotion and recruitment in terms of the ‘gay’ issues.”

Mugisha, who leads the underground group called Sexual Minorities Uganda, blames U.S. evangelical activists in particular for stoking fears and promoting homophobia with a 2009 visit and conference on “rehabilitation” for gays in Uganda. Since then, violence against gays has increased, he said.

Attorneys for the activists, led Elasdius Rwakafuuzi, requested that Judge Mwangushya issue an injunction restraining Lokodo from closing future gathering of LGBT advocacy groups.

Uganda is a largely conservative society where “homosexual acts” are illegal, and where LGBT people have faced physical attacks, losing their jobs and social rejection.

Uganda’s infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill — dubbed the “Kill the Gays” bill — was reintroduced in parliament earlier this year. The original version of the bill, first introduced in 2009, included harsh penalties, including the the death penalty for some homosexual acts.

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