August 8, 2016 at 4:12 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Ugandan government defends Pride pageant raid

From left; All Out Executive Director Matt Beard and Richard Lusimbo of Sexual Minorities Uganda celebrate Uganda Pride on Aug. 6, 2016. (Photo courtesy of Richard Lusimbo/Sexual Minorities Uganda)

From left; All Out Executive Director Matt Beard and Richard Lusimbo of Sexual Minorities Uganda celebrate Uganda Pride on Aug. 6, 2016. (Photo courtesy of Richard Lusimbo/Sexual Minorities Uganda)

A Ugandan government official on Monday denied anyone was “hurt or injured” when police raided a nightclub that was hosting a Pride event.

Minister of State for Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo said in a lengthy statement the Ugandan government released that “a group of LGBT members assembled at” a nightclub in the Ugandan capital of Kampala on Aug. 4 “for a meeting without police clearance.” He adds police were “subsequently alerted and the assembly was disbanded and the participants cautioned.”

“No one was hurt or injured during the exercise,” said Lokodo.

Hundreds of people were attending a beauty pageant inside the nightclub — which is located across the street from the U.S. Embassy — when the raid took place.

Frank Mugisha and Pepe Julian Onziema of Sexual Minorities Uganda, an LGBT advocacy group, were among the more than dozen people who were attending the pageant that was part of Uganda Pride. Activists with whom the Washington Blade spoke after the raid said the police beat and even sexually assaulted people they took into custody.

Sexual Minorities Uganda Research and Documentation Manager Richard Lusimbo told the Blade on Monday from Kampala that a man who jumped from the nightclub’s fourth floor during the raid suffered “critical” injuries.

“He’s in really serious pain,” said Lusimbo during a telephone interview.

The raid — which U.S. Ambassador to Uganda Deborah Malac criticized — prompted Uganda Pride organizers to cancel a parade that had been scheduled to take place on Aug. 6.

Lusimbo told the Blade that activists donated medical equipment and distributed condoms in Kampala after the raid. He said they also held private parties over the weekend to commemorate Pride.

“People did get together, even though it did not work out according to plan,” said Lusimbo.

Government accuses ‘foreign forces’ of working with activists

Uganda is among the more than 70 countries in which consensual same-sex sexual acts remain criminalized.

President Yoweri Museveni in 2014 signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act, a controversial law under which those found guilty of repeated same-sex sexual acts faced life in prison. The Constitutional Court of Uganda later struck down the statute that prompted the U.S. to curtail aid to the East African country.

Lokodo in his statement appeared to reference the Anti-Homosexuality Act. He also said the country’s LGBT rights movement organized the Uganda Pride events “with the influence of some foreign forces.”

“In our society, our African values and cultures consider sexual activity to be private and personal, and it is not conducted in public,” said Lokodo. “Certainly, neither is homosexuality. It is for this reason that the promotion of ‘gay’ activities is unwelcome.”

“In addition, we have noted that the promotions being held are aimed at mobilizing people to join this LGBT movement, which interestingly goes against the argument that gays are ‘born’ that way,” he added. “We are aware that there are inducements, including money, being offered to young people to promote the practice.”

Lusimbo referenced the man who jumped from the nightclub’s fourth floor in his criticism of Lokodo.

“A young man fell off the building and is now in critical condition,” Lusimbo told the Blade. “He (Lokodo) was trying to justify his lies with no facts and no law.”

The Ugandan government has yet to respond to the Blade’s request for comment about the raid.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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