'We will crackdown on these gays'

2012-06-24 12:08

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Kampala - Gay rights activists should be banned from holding meetings or standing up for their rights, a key Ugandan minister said Friday, ahead of a scheduled court appearance next week over allegations that he had impeded the exercise of gay rights.

Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo is due in Kampala's High Court on Monday, accused by gay rights groups of preventing them from holding conventions.

"We will continue a crackdown on these gays by all means," Lokodo, a former Catholic priest, told dpa by telephone. "We cannot allow them to use meetings as platforms to promote their activities."

The activists are taking Lokodo to court after they said he shut down two conventions in Kampala this year. They claim his actions were "unlawful" and contravened the country's constitution and freedom of expression.

"He closed our workshop on Monday," said gay activist Dennis Wamala. "We are not free at all. We walk in fear."

Uganda has come under fierce international criticism for cracking down on gay rights. In 2008, a bill was introduced in parliament proposing tough sentences, including the death penalty, for gays and lesbians.

International pressure forced the government to delay an outcome on the bill, but gay activists say they are nevertheless living in fear.

A high-profile activist was murdered in January 2011, after a local tabloid newspaper made public a list of 100 gay and lesbian citizens.

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