Ugandan gay rights workshop ‘raided’

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Amnesty International has called on Uganda to end its “outrageous harassment” of activists after a cabinet minister reportedly raided a workshop being held by gay and trans rights advocates.

Uganda’s Minister for Ethics and Integrity, Simon Lokodo, was accompanied by police to the hotel where the event was being held, the organisation said.

Announcing that the workshop was illegal, rights activists were expelled from the hotel and threatened with force.

Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General said: “This is an outrageous attempt to prevent lawful and peaceful activities of human rights defenders in Uganda.

Amnesty International also said the minister had attempted to order the arrest of Kasha Jacqueline Nabagasera, a prominent gay and trans rights activist and winner of the 2011 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders who had been present.

The reasons for the attempted arrest were not immediately clear.

Last year, her rights group’s Kampala offices were burgled and documents listing member names stolen.

Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera said that five computers belonging to Freedom and Roam Uganda were stolen – including documents containing lists of members.

The move comes days after Uganda’s infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill was reintroduced at the Ugandan Parliament.

The Government of Uganda has said the bill does not enjoy government support but that “it is required under our constitution to facilitate this debate.

“The facilitation of this debate should not be confused for the government’s support for this bill.”

Uganda already criminalises gay acts but the bill would expand the range of punishable offences.

Salil Shetty added: “The Government’s claimed opposition to the Bill needs to be supported through their actions. The Ugandan government must allow legitimate, peaceful gatherings of human rights defenders, including those working on LGBT rights.”

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