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Uganda suspends LGBTQ group for lacking permit

August 6, 2022

Campaigners have called the suspension "a witch hunt" and say it will prevent them from carrying out lifesaving work in the conservative East African country.

A transgender Ugandan poses in front of a rainbow flag during pride celebrations in Entebbe, Uganda, in 2014
Members of the LGBTQ community in Uganda face arrest and widespread discriminationImage: Rebecca Vassie/AP Photo/picture alliance

The Ugandan government has suspended the work of the country's leading LGBTQ rights organization, accusing it of "operating illegally."

The authority that regulates NGOs in the East African nation said in a statement that the group Sexual Minorities Uganda did not have a valid NGO permit and must cease operations immediately. 

Sexual Minorities Uganda has for years advocated for the rights of LGBTQ people in the conservative country, where homosexuality is criminalized.

Group slams 'witch hunt'

Sexual Minorities Uganda director Frank Mugisha said the suspension was "a clear witch hunt rooted in systematic homophobia."

"This means that the lifesaving work we do is on hold. We can't protect and support vulnerable LGBT people," he said.

He added that an attempt to register Sexual Minorities Uganda with authorities had been rejected because the group's name was deemed "undesirable."

While there have been no reported prosecutions for consensual same-sex acts in Uganda in recent years, LGBTQ people face violence, arrest and widespread discrimination.

A bill passed by Ugandan lawmakers and signed by President Yoweri Museveni in 2014 sought to impose life imprisonment for homosexual relations.

It was subsequently struck down by a court because it had been approved during a session that lacked quorum. But some officials have since tried to have it reenacted.

The original version of the legislation, first introduced in 2009, included the death penalty for what it called aggravated acts of homosexuality.

nm/fb (Reuters, AP, AFP)