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Image shows refugees holding up a rainbow flag

LGBT Ugandan refugees who fled the nation because of persecution, pictured right here in 2018

Ugandan officers have banned a distinguished LGBT rights group in a serious setback for the group there.

Sexual Minorities Uganda (Smug) has been ordered to close down with “immediate effect” for not registering correctly with authorities.

The marketing campaign group decried the order as a “clear witch hunt” by the federal government in opposition to LGBT Ugandans.

Sexual minorities face widespread persecution in Uganda, the place anti-gay and transphobic views are frequent.

Homosexual relationships are unlawful in Uganda, the place they are often punished by as much as life in jail for committing “unnatural offences.”

Official police information exhibits that 194 individuals have been charged beneath the offence between 2017 and 2020, together with 25 who went on to be convicted.

“This is a clear witch hunt rooted in systematic homophobia, fuelled by anti-gay and anti-gender movements,” stated Smug’s director Frank Mugisha, who’s a homosexual Ugandan activist.

He accused authorities of treating members of Uganda’s LGBT minority as second-class residents and making an attempt to erase their existence fully.

On Friday Ugandan officers introduced they have been halting Smug’s operations as a result of the marketing campaign group, based in 2004, had did not register its identify with the Nationwide Bureau for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) correctly.

It’s the similar purpose given final 12 months when dozens of civil society teams – together with pro-democracy organisations – have been additionally banned by Ugandan authorities.

This time officers say that the problem stems from Smug’s identify itself – Sexual Minorities Uganda.

In a press release the NGO Bureau acknowledged that Smug had tried to register with authorities in 2012, however that the appliance had been rejected as a result of Smug’s full identify was thought of “undesirable.”

President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in workplace since 1986, has made homophobic feedback up to now – including in a 2016 CNN interview when he called gay people “disgusting.”

Though there are not any legal guidelines particularly criminalising being transgender in Uganda, trans persons are often prosecuted for different offences together with “personation” (false illustration), in line with experiences compiled by rights organisations.

Since its institution nearly 20 years in the past, Smug has campaigned for the rights of LGBT individuals in Uganda by selling entry to well being companies and supporting members of the LGBT group to reside brazenly.

It has additionally taken authorized motion to guard homosexual individuals from hostility, together with in 2010 when it successfully petitioned a Ugandan judge to order a newspaper to cease publishing the names and images of homosexual Ugandan males beneath the headline “hang them”.

The group stated a number of of its members had been attacked or harassed on account of the article – together with one girl who was nearly killed when her neighbours started throwing stones at her home.

On the time, Ugandan politicians have been making ready to debate whether or not or to not introduce the dying penalty for same-sex relationships – a legislative modification that attracted widespread worldwide condemnation earlier than ultimately being dropped.

Extra not too long ago, Smug has vocally criticised anti-gay speeches delivered by Ugandan politicians – together with within the run as much as nationwide elections in 2021.

“The politicians are using the LGBT community as a scapegoat to gain support and win votes and it is fuelling homophobia,” Smug’s director Frank Mugisha informed the Thomson Reuters Basis.

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