Uganda: Judge named in activist case against anti-gay cabinet minister

Simon Lokodo, Ugandan Ethics Minister

Ugandan High Court judge Justice Eldad Mwangushya has been named as the trial judge in a case brought by four gay rights activists against a government minister. Government and Ethics Minister Simon Lokodo forcefully closed a gay rights workshop in Entebbe in February.

Francis Onyango, the lawyer for the activists said on Monday in Kampala that the case is scheduled to start on June 25, 2012.

The activists: Jacqueline Kasha Nabagesera, Frank Mugisha, Julian Pepe Onziema and Geoffrey Ogwaro want the Ugandan High court to pronounce that Lokodo’s closure of the gay rights workshop on February 14, 2012 violated their freedom of assembly guaranteed under the Ugandan constitution.

The activists accuse the minister and government of breach of personal liberty. They want the court to declare that the minister’s closing of the workshop constituted an infringement of their right to participate in peaceful activities to influence policies of government through civic organizations guaranteed under article 38(2) of the Ugandan constitution.

“That the action of the minister to order the closing of the workshop while no other workshop taking place at the same venue was closed was arbitrary and unjustified and constituted an infringement of the applicants’ and other participants’ right equal treatment before the law under article 21 of the constitution,” reads the plaint in part.

The cabinet minister’s raid forcefully stopped the meeting of LGBTI activists who had gathered for a capacity building workshop for human rights defenders. Lokodo, while closing the workshop accused the gay activists of recruiting children into the gay life.

According to activists at the hotel during the raid, when some activists resisted and said he was lying, he ordered security guards to arrest them.

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