PRESS RELEASE: COALITION OF AFRICAN LESBIANS (CAL) CONDEMNS MINISTERS’S CLOSURE OF LGBT WORKSHOP IN KAMPALA
Boksburg, South Africa
February 15, 2012
The Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) Condemns the Ugandan Government Closing of an LGBT Capacity Building Workshop in Kampala, on February 13, 2012
**Human Rights Defenders Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera and Vanja Braathem Escape Arrest**
The Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL), a coalition of lesbians, bisexual women and trans-divers organizations and individuals, condemns the orders of the State Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Hon. Simon Lukodo to close an LGBT Leadership Training workshop on the morning of Tuesday, February 14, 2012.
Furthermore, the coalition condemns the outright intimidation by government officials of the two organizers of this workshop, Human Rights Defenders Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera and Vanja Braathem. The week-long workshop was due to end tomorrow, February 15, 2012.
Such actions are in direct contravention of the Constitution of Uganda, The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, amongst other international human rights instruments, all of which strongly promote and protect the rights to freedom of association, assembly, speech, expression and the right to information of all citizens and human beings, without discrimination.
In the middle of the Parliament review of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, The Coalition of African Lesbians strongly demands that the Government of Uganda protects all LGBT people in Uganda, particularly known and targeted LGBT Human Rights Defenders. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure safety for all who live within its borders.
Activists report that in the morning of February 14, 2012, a government official claiming to belong to the President’s Office walked into the workshop room and sat down. With concern, one of the organizers, Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, asked him to move out as he was uninvited to the workshop. The official asked Kasha to follow him to a spot in the hotel. Upon entering that room with him, Kasha met with the Minister and his aides. The Minister demanded to know the purpose of the workshop and Kasha responded that it was about leadership. He further demanded to know what kind of leadership the workshop was addressing and again, Kasha responded to his inquiry. The Minister then asked Kasha to come with him to the workshop room where he began to speak to the participants directly. At that point, the Minister announced that the workshop was illegal and unethical and ordered its closure. There was resistance from the workshop organizers and participants and as a result, the Minister ordered for the arrest of Kasha. Fortunately, Kasha was able to sneak out and run. On reaching her room, the hotel staff called Kasha to inform her that the Minister and police were waiting for her at the hotel lobby. Kasha managed to sneak out of her room and escaped by jumping over the hotel fence. The hotel manager is reported to have been put under gun point to produce Kasha and the Minister left an order for both Kasha and Vanja to leave the country as they are not needed in Uganda. According to further reports from activists, Kasha was summoned by the office of the Minister yesterday afternoon to explain more about the purpose of the workshop which she declined to do for safety reasons. The rest of the participants checked out of their rooms, amidst officials searching for Kasha on every floor of the hotel, and returned safely to their homes. Eight days after the Anti-Homosexuality Bill has been re-tabled, the general sense among LGBT people is that of fear and hopelessness.
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Pamoja Tutafika! Je, huu ni ungwana?