By melanie Nathan, Feb 12, 2023.
The Ugandan Government’s National Bureau for Non-Governmental organization is currently investigating the operations of 22 NGOs suspected to be involved in so called “promotion of LGBTIQ activities”.
The NGO Bureau has made a hit list and is threatening to “comprehensively criminalize” activities that promote homosexuality in the country and lay down stringent requirements for registration of civil society organizations.
There is no such thing as “promoting homosexuality”. All organizations on the list either provide shelter or legal/advocacy/ health services for sexuality and gender identity minorities whose lives and liberty have been threatened, causing people to be forcibly displaced from the resulting persecution and violence.
Ugandan Monitor notes: “The report by the NGO Bureau shows the government’s intention to clamp stronger shackles on the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTiQ) activities in the country. “Individuals linked to organizations involved in promoting LGBTiQ activities should be profiled and mechanisms put in place to prevent them from forming other organizations for a similar purpose,” the January 2023 report says.”
Mr Stephen Okello, the executive director of the NGO Bureau, confirmed the authenticity of the unsigned report but was quick to add that the “document was not officially released by the Bureau.” “It was still being worked on and being subjected to internal processes,” he told Monitor.
Donor agencies cited as financiers include Germany development partners GIZ, American Jewish Service, USAID, Open Society Initiative for East Africa, American Embassy, Tides Foundation, and Oxfam.
It said the investigations followed concerns by various stakeholders. Parliament recently heard that some NGOs were actively recruiting schoolchildren into same-sex relations. Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa last month told the House that he had heard “painful stories” and that many citizens, including parents, were “suffering in silence” from the psychological damage of forced recruitment to homosexuality.
This is the viciously cruel and unsubstantiated and myth and lie being touted over two decades to demonize and ostracize and encourage violence against LGBTQI+ people. It has also served to underpin the 2014 – now defunct – KILL THE GAYS BILL – (Anti-Homosexuality act of 2014.) The hope of many Parliamentarians is to bring back the voided legislation that would have made it a criminal offence to “promote” homosexuality and also would have jailed (for 4 years) any family members, professionals, friends or anyone who failed to report a “known homosexual” within 48 hours.
Clearly by pushing this lie in Parliament, as well as targeting human rights groups, the speaker is readying Parliament for harsher legislation and punitive measures, akin to the Kill the Gays bill. The current law, mostly British Colonial Era remnants, fails to fully define homosexuality as a crime. By ridding the country of human rights defenders and organizations, Uganda is more likely to pass such legislation sneakily and with less risk of global outcry.
The Bureau says it has completed investigations into activities of four other organizations—Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), Tranz Network, The Robust Initiative for Promoting Human Rights (Triumph), and Ubuntu Law and Justice Centre—and found they were operating illegally. If such were true, the illegality is created around making it impossible for these organizations to register and operate equally as others do.
Mr Adrian Jjuuko, the executive director of Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF), said the report is “very worrying” and that its conclusions and recommendations smack of bias. “We’ve seen the report and we’re very worried. On our end, we have not received any notification of an investigation that is being done by the NGO Bureau,” said Mr Jjuuko, whose organization HRAPF is among those investigated.
Last month, HRAPF was accused of sponsoring a controversial by-law in Kasese that attempted to have LGBTiQ rights recognized in the municipality of the Rwenzori District.
“We are an organization of lawyers and if our work is regarded as promotion of homosexuality, then all the work of lawyers who defend other persons whose conduct is criminalized should be regarded as promoting the criminal acts that their clients may be accused of,” Mr Jjuuko reasoned.
Mr Frank Mugisha, the executive director of SMUG, said it was a “witch-hunt” and that the NGO Bureau has “created a hit list”. “The LGBTiQ community is already vulnerable and [now] they want to erase the human rights of LGBTiQ persons entirely,” he opined.
Ugandan is currently under the authoritarian rule of dictator Yoweri Museveni (M7) who has been wielding an oppressive regime for 33 years: Using LGBTI issues in this context is popular and so Museveni uses gays as scapegoats to hide the ills of the country and to unify around an issue in the hope of increasing his popularity. Even the Sexual Offenses Bill that was passed by Parliament in 2021 is largely political.
Creating lists and persecuting LGBTQI individuals and organizations is not new in Uganda. It is clear that Parliament is gearing to promote new legislation and what better than to get rid of human rights organizations and defenders that provide shelter, emergency, humanitarian and legal services to LGBTQI+ people. Currently thousands of LGBTQI+ those perceived as such , allies and journalists have been forcible displaced by the very lies and myth touted her by the NGO Bureau and the Ugandan Parliament. Many flee persecution and violence caused by criminalization, lies and resulting violence.
NGOs under investigation
1. Freedom and Roam Uganda
2. Uganda Key Population Consortium
3. Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum Uganda
4. Lady Bird Empowerment Centre
5. FEM Alliance Uganda
6. Rainbow Mirrors Uganda
7. Women with a Mission
8. Initiative for Rescue Uganda
9. Icebreakers Uganda
10. East African Visual Artists
11. Justice and Economic Empowerment for Women and Girls’ Foundation Uganda Ltd
12. Visual Echoes for Human Rights Advocacy (VEHRA)
13. Children of the Sun Foundation Uganda
14. Refugee Support Project
15. Empowered at Dusk Women’s Association (EADWA)
16. Men of the night Uganda
17. Serving Lives Under Marginalisation (SLUM)
18. Service Workers in Group Foundation Uganda
19. Let’s Walk Uganda
20. Come out Post Test Club—Uganda (COPTEC)
21. Hope Mbale
22. Universal Coalition of Affirming Africans Uganda
AFRICAN HUMAN RIGHTS COALITION
Melanie Nathan, Speaker Bookings