Ugandan LGBTQ organization calls government shutdown of its operations a ‘clear witch hunt’

By Chandler Thornton, CNN

The Ugandan government has terminated the operations of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a non-governmental LGBTQ rights organization, accusing it of operating illegally in the country, according to a government statement.

Uganda’s National Non-Governmental Organizations Bureau (NGO Bureau) under the Ministry of Home Affairs said on Friday that the group operated without being registered with the NGO Bureau, adding that the group had tried to register its name in 2012 but had been rejected “on the grounds of being undesirable.”

The SMUG issued a statement friday following the government’s announcement saying: “This is clearly a witch hunt rooted in systematic homophobia which is fueled by anti-gay and anti-gender movements.

He added: “The refusal to legalize SMUG’s operation which aims to protect LGBTQ people who continue to face major discrimination in Uganda, actively encouraged by political and religious leaders, was a clear indicator that the Ugandan government and its agencies are adamant and treat Ugandans. sexual and gender minorities as second-class citizens.

The group also called on the government to “uphold its obligations to protect all Ugandans, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, sex expression and characteristics.”

Uganda made headlines in 2009 when it introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill which included a death sentence for same-sex conduct. The country’s lawmakers passed a bill in 2014, but replaced the death penalty clause with a proposed life sentence. This law was eventually struck down, but some lawmakers sought to reintroduce it.

In 2014, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, told CNN in an exclusive interview that sexual behavior is a matter of choice and that gay people are “disgusting”.

Uganda is a socially conservative country and in 2014 it introduced the Anti-Pornography Act which included a ‘mini-skirt ban’. In recent years, the law has resulted in the arrest of revenge for porn victims.

In May 2019, the Ugandan “ex-gay” community petitioned Ugandan parliament to bring back Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2014 to ‘raise awareness of sexual orientation’, says a statement on the parliament’s website.

Ugandan activists have in the past told CNN that the LGBTQ community faces arrests, attacks and persecution.

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Virginia S. Braud