Organisers of Uganda’s gay parade have called off their annual event celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender culture and pride due to alleged threats of violence and arrest.
The Pride Uganda organisers said in a statement on Thursday that Ethics Minister Simon Lokodo has threatened to arrest them if they hold the festival.
“He has categorically stated, time and again, that gender and sexual minorities have no rights in Uganda and today had all the venues of the planned Pride events surrounded by state militia,” the statement said.
“The courage and determination that we carry in our hearts is not enough to put the lives of so many innocent people at risk,” it added as reason for the cancellation.
The United States Mission in Uganda slammed the Ugandan government for denying the LGBTI community their right of association.
“The U.S. is disappointed with reports that the Ugandan government has forced the cancellation of LGBTI Pride Week events … It is the responsibility of the Govt to ensure that human rights of all citizens, including LGBTI citizens, are respected and protected,” they tweeted.
(2/3) Under Uganda’s constitution, all individuals and organizations have right to associate freely in private and in public, without fear.— U.S. Mission Uganda (@usmissionuganda) August 17, 2017
Last year, the same event was stopped by the police after the authorities threatened to arrest the organisers of the event, arguing such gatherings were illegal under Uganda’s penal code.
Some of the patrons of the event were ordered into the vehicles and driven to Kampala for questioning. They were later set free without any charges.
In August, 2016, police raided a night club where a gay pride event was underway and arrested at least 15 people. They were also released.
In 2009, a Ugandan lawmaker introduced a bill that prescribed the death penalty for some homosexual acts, saying he wanted to protect Ugandan children.
The proposed bill prompted international condemnation. A less severe version of the bill passed by lawmakers was rejected by a Ugandan court as unconstitutional.