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Uganda: Gay advocacy group loses court battle with ethics minister

By Godfrey Olukya
Posted on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 17:11

The Sex Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a gay advocacy group, was also ordered to compensate Ethics and Integrity minister, Reverend Father Simon Lokodo for dragging him to court.

SMUG took Lokodo to court 2012 after he stormed into a hotel in Entebbe town, 28 kilometers south of the capital Kampala in the company of security officers, and cancelled the two week long conference.

The group claimed the conference, held before the country’s new anti-gay law was passed, was a private affair.

Lokodo who was instrumental in the passing of the law declared the SMUG conference illegal. The group went to court claiming that the minister had infringed on their rights.

However, High Court judge Steven Musota dismissed the case saying the minister was within his rights to stop the meeting.

“I find that the minister acted within public interest to protect moral standards when he stormed and halted the said meeting,” reads part of the judgment.

“While the applicants enjoyed their rights they cited, they had an obligation in exercising them according to the law, which they didn’t.”

Lokodo said he was happy with the judgment, which will see him receiving millions of Ugandan shillings in compensation.

But SMUG has vowed to appeal the ruling.

Other advocacy groups, including Freedom and Roam, have lent their support arguing that the February 2012 event was meant to educate activists on leadership skills and not promote homosexuality.

Dennis Wamala, a programmes manager at Icebreakers Uganda, a gay rights organisation said: “the ruling is against the freedom of association.”

“We are going to appeal against the ruling. We are going to continue fighting for our rights,” he said.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni early this year signed a controversial bill criminalising homosexual activities into law.

The move elicited worldwide condemnation but Museveni has stuck to his guns on the new law.

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