An announcement from the Ugandan government Wednesday stated that at least 38 nongovernmental agencies would be banned for allegedly promoting gay rights and recruiting children into homosexuality.
“We have investigated them thoroughly and we have found their sponsors,” said Simon Lokodo, the country’s Ethics Minister. “We will ask them to step aside and stop pretending to work in human rights.”
“Some NGOs, under the pretext of providing social services, are receiving funds to promote homosexuality,” he added.
These organizations, both domestic and international, will no longer be allowed to operate in Uganda after losing their registrations. The official list of these organizations has yet to be released.
“The sooner they are phased out, the better,” Lokodo said.
Homosexuality is highly taboo in Africa and in many countries is formally outlawed. Uganda’s parliament is reviewing legislation that could make punishments for gay citizens found within the country even harsher. The pending bill once included sentences as severe as life in prison or the death penalty, but were removed under extreme pressure from donor countries. Still, the bill has backing from a number of Ugandan politicians.
“We are resolutely opposed to the bill,” said U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the day before Uganda’s announcement. “We think it’s inconsistent with Uganda’s international human rights obligations, and this just sets a bad, bad precedent in the neighborhood.”
The announcement follows a police raid earlier in the week that broke up a gay rights activists’ workshop in Kampala, the country’s capital. A number of involved organizations, including Amnesty international, blasted the raid as “illegal.” Though the involved activists were detained for several hours, they were all released without charge.
“This continued harassment and intimidation of human rights activists must stop and the police need to start adhering to the laws they are supposed to protect and enforce,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty’s deputy director for Africa.
Ugandan authorities have yet to comment on the incident.