Friday, 11 January 2013

Simon Lokodo Case, Part I

Ethics & Integrity Minister, Simon Lokodo

Uganda's State Minister for Ethics & Integrity, the Right Reverend Father Simon Lokodo, and Attorney General, Peter Nyombi, are going head-to-head with SMUG in the Ugandan courts at the moment.

Displaying a startling lack of integrity, he made headlines last February:

A Uganda cabinet minister has raided a workshop for gay activists and tried to arrest the organiser, a Ugandan paper and UK-based rights group have said.

Minister for Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo said the gathering was "illegal" and ordered delegates out of the hotel near the capital.

It comes days after an MP retabled a controversial anti-gay bill...

The minister also ordered the arrest of Ms Nabagesera , who was given the prestigious Martin Ennals rights award last year for her work fighting homophobia in Uganda, but she fled the hotel.

SMUG are challenging his actions on the grounds that his intervention was unlawful, and that all Ugandans have the constitutional right to assemble. You can catch up on the F&R blog:

They were back in court this morning and, guess what:

Case adjourned till 11th March. Case started late and it was a day for counsels of both sides to highlight the details of submitted files. The judge also tackled an issue of SMUG registration and our lawyer said its not registered and judge replied this case would go well if SMUG was a registered NGO but still he said that all Ugandans have a right to assemble and that individuals have rights of law suits. 

SMUG is a coalition organisation of around eight LGBT groups in Uganda, coming together to fight this bill. When asked whether it was funding that prevented SMUG from registering as an NGO, the reply was clear:

No, [the] process is on, but problem is that the new NGO charter does not support gay registration.

Rather a difficult situation whereby the court is suggesting the proceedings might go better if SMUG were a registered NGO, but they are prevented from registering due to their cause.

We'll update again on this case as and when it happens - presumably in March.

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