The State Minister for Ethics and Integrity Hon Simon Lokodo this morning ordered Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) to cancel the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT) celebrations just minutes before it started.
The Minister who has become notorious for infringing on the freedoms of expression and association of LGBTIQ Ugandans sent his ‘men’ to hold off the event, claiming as he always does, that the gathering was aimed at promoting homosexuality. However, it should be understood that the SMUG Executive Director Dr Frank Mugisha had attained permission from area Police Station for the event to take place, just as the Public Order Management Act requires.
“We had organised an event to commemorate the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia at SMUG. Unfortunately, it has been interrupted by the Kampala Metropolitan Police and the Minister of Ethics and Integrity. It’s very unfortunate that this kind of harassment continues to happen; in fact it is the reason we organize such events- to try to bring an end to the discrimination of LGBTIQ persons in Uganda. Today is truly a sad day for us as the Ugandan LGBTI community because it is clear that the harassment by government still continues,” Dr Frank Mugisha said of today’s happenings.
The Minister’s henchmen however would not listen to reason and said they had ultimate orders from the statesman to ensure that no such gathering would take place. They immediately ordered the crowd that had started to gather for the event to disperse. This is not the first time that the Minister if interfering with a planned event for LGBTIQ persons- he has forced the community to cancel the last two annual Pride events.
The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia is observed on May 17 annually and aims to coordinate international events that raise awareness of LGBT rights violations and stimulate interest in LGBT rights work worldwide. The main purpose of the May 17 mobilisations is to raise awareness of violence, discrimination, and repression of LGBT communities worldwide, which in turn provides an opportunity to take action and engage in dialogue with the media, policymakers, public opinion, and wider civil society.
One of the stated goals of May 17 is to create an event that can be visible at a global level without needing to conform to a specific type of action.] This decentralized approach is needed due to the diversity of social, religious, cultural, and political contexts in which rights violations occur.
The global theme for IDAHOBIT this year is “Alliances for Solidarity”.