US embassy condemns Uganda for forcing cancellation of Pride

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The US embassy in Uganda has condemned the forced cancellation of a Pride event.

Uganda Pride, which had been expected to take place this month, was cancelled abruptly over the weekend, as LGBT activists said they had been warned they faced arrest if the event went ahead.

In an article for the Guardian, one of the event’s organisers Frank Mugisha said it had been “crushed” after threats from Uganda’s minister of ethics and integrity Simon Lokodo.

Lokodo has previously publicly threatened to arrest anyone who celebrates LGBT rights in public.

Under Uganda’s archaic penal code, “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” between two males carries a potential penalty of life imprisonment.

Uganda Pride 2015

Uganda Pride 2015 (Photo by ISAAC KASAMANI/AFP/Getty Images)

A harsher anti-gay law was signed into law in 2013, but it was later thrown out by the country’s Supreme Court on technical grounds.

In a statement, the US Embassy in the country slammed the Ugandan government.

The statement, released by US Ambassador Deborah R. Malac, reads: “The U.S. is disappointed with reports that the Ugandan government has forced the cancellation of LGBTI Pride Week events.

“Under Uganda’s constitution, all individuals and organisations have right to associate freely in private and in public, without fear.

“It is responsibility of the Govt to ensure that human rights of all citizens, including LGBTI citizens, are respected and protected.”

Mr Mugisha, the head of Sexual Minorities Uganda, wrote in the Guardian: “Pride 2017 was crushed. Our efforts to engage with the state fell on deaf ears.

“Lokodo threatened us with arrest, even violence, and the police were reportedly ready to surround the venues we had booked. The event was meant to begin last week, on 16 August.

“But we were left with no choice but to cancel. Our community is still traumatised by the arrests and detentions that took place last year. We couldn’t risk a repeat.”

He added: “It took the murder of my friend David Kato and the threat of the death penalty against LGBT people for the international community to take notice of our plight.

“Now it feels like the LGBT community is becoming invisible again, and not just to Ugandan society. We need the British government, the EU and the US to keep talking to the Ugandan government.

“We need the persecution of LGBT people to be on the agenda of the Commonwealth heads of government meeting next year. And we urge the EU to appoint a special representative on LGBT rights.

“The fact that we have been forced to cancel Pride Uganda is one more sign of our growing invisibility.”

Mr Lokodo has previously made shameless attempts to link gay rights activists to paedophilia and prostitution.

Justifying his homophobic campaign, he claimed: “We are aware that there are inducements, including money, being offered to young people to promote the practice.“