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Uganda’s ethics minister breaks up LGBT workshop, continuing harassment of gays

ENTEBBE, Uganda – Participants in an LGBT workshop at the Imperial Resort Beach Hotel were forced to scurry to safety today when Simon Lokodo, State Minister for Ethics and Integrity, burst into a conference and closed it down.

Ugandan media, which is largely pro-government, reported that Lokodo told participants to leave and ordered the arrest of event organizer Jacqueline Kasha. The Daily Monitor said Kasha escaped safely.

LGBT activists from Uganda took to Facebook to announce that all 30 participants are safe and unharmed. Because of concerns over safety of those individuals, and the possibility of arrest, San Diego Gay & Lesbian News will not identify the other activists.

One activist wrote:

“Imagine a government Minister of Ethics and Integrity driving all the way from Kampala to Entebbe to shut down a workshop.”

Lokodo may have been tipped off about the conference, which was being held in secret at the hotel and in rooms that were closed off to the public out of safety concerns. Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, although the laws do not make it a crime for gays to meet publicly. However, Member of Parliament David Bahati continues to float a “Kill The Gays” bill that would make such a gathering a criminal act punishable by time in prison. The bill, which was reintroduced last week and tabled for the time being, also include a death sentence for homosexuals convicted of being a “serial offender.”

"I have closed this conference because it's illegal. We do not accept homosexuality in Uganda. So go back home," Lokodo told the participants, according the The Daily Monitor.

One activist said Lokodo’s grandstanding action won’t work.

“Closing our workshop today totally violets [sic] our constitution and this intimidation will not stop us from fighting, we are getting more strong.”