Uganda | HIV conference postponed over “promotion of homosexuality”


Minister Simon Lokodo

Uganda’s Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Simon Lokodo, has reportedly blocked an HIV conference because he says it will “promote homosexuality and other dirty things.”

The first Annual Conference on Key and Priority Populations in Uganda was meant to take place from 9 to 10 May in Kampala. It sought to provide “key insights, advances and partnerships in HIV/AIDS interventions for key and priority populations,” including sexual minorities, sex workers, drug users and fishing communities.

The event has now been postponed, if not cancelled. Lokodo, who has made a career out of persecuting the LGBTQ community, told the Daily Monitor that he had personally blocked the event because it intended to promote “uncultured behaviours” like homosexuality.

“My duty is to stop anything that will position the moral fabric of Ugandans. I realised that there was something dirty when I saw leaders of the conference like Nicholas Opiyo of an organisation known as Chapter 4 and Frank Mugisha of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG),” Lokodo said.

However, Dr Nelson Musoba, the Director general of the Uganda Aids Commission, which is co-hosting the event, described the situation somewhat differently. While he acknowledged receiving a complaint from Lokodo, Musoba said he had postponed the conference “because we want to increase its scope and make it better.”

Musoba added: “I will meet [Lokodo] again to help him understand the purpose of the workshop.”

The Most At-Risk Populations Network Limited (MNL), which is one of the organisers of the conference, said in a statement that it had met with Musoba about the suspension.

The organisation said that Musoba had committed himself to engaging with government officials in order to “clarify the scientific (implementation and formal) and evidence-based nature of this conference and to counter any inaccurate information they may have received.”

MNL plans to announce on 14 May the status of the conference and if and how it will go ahead at a later date. In the meantime, it urged participants to “use this time to fine tune their presentations.”

A former Catholic priest, Lokodo has previously suggested that heterosexual rape is more morally acceptable than consensual homosexual sex. He’s compared same-sex marriage to bestiality, said that homosexuality was brought to Uganda by white people, has threatened to ban NGOs that support LGBTQ equality and has personally accompanied police in raids on LGBTQ rights workshops.

Lokodo has also claimed that young people are being actively “recruited” to become LGBTQ. In 2016, he announced that he was acquiring a South Korean machine that can track down gay people.

Colonial-era legislation criminalises gay sex in Uganda, allowing the courts to imprison anyone found guilty of homosexuality for life.

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