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Uganda minister who stormed gay rights meeting wins case

24 June 2014, 16:30

KAMPALA, June 24, 2014 (AFP) -A Ugandan minister has won a case brought by gay rights campaigners after he stormed a workshop they had been holding, in the wake of tough new anti-gay laws, activists said Tuesday.

Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo was sued by the activists after he raided the meeting two years ago, arguing it had infringed their constitutional rights.

"We lost on all grounds," gay activist Jacqueline Kasha, one of the team who had brought the case against the minister, told AFP.

Lokodo raided the workshop in February 2012 in the Ugandan town of Entebbe flanked by police, saying he had broken up the meeting as the "conscience of this country."

At the time, Amnesty International condemned the raid as "an outrageous attempt to prevent lawful and peaceful activities of human rights defenders in Uganda."

President Yoweri Museveni in February signed a controversial law that called for "repeat homosexuals" to be jailed for life, outlawed the promotion of homosexuality and obliged Ugandans to denounce gays to the authorities.

Rights groups say the law has triggered a sharp increase in arrests and assaults of country's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

The United States last week froze some aid programmes, as well as cancelling military air exercises and barring entry to the US for specific Ugandan officials involved in "human rights abuses", including against the gay community.

Lokodo, who was also awarded costs of the case, said the ruling on Monday was "marvellous" and thanked the judge "for having looked into the values that are more positive for the public," Uganda's Daily Monitor newspaper reported.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International said in a joint report last month the LGBT community had faced a "surge in human rights violations", with people being arrested, evicted or losing their jobs, and at least one transgender person has been murdered since the law was passed.

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