Ugandan government launches investigation of leading NGO for "promoting homosexuality and lesbianism"

Published: June 4, 2014

The Ugandan government has begun restricting the activities of one of the country’s largest human rights organizations under allegations that it has been engaged in the “promotion of homosexuality,” a crime under the Anti-Homosexuality Act that became law in February.

The Refugee Law Project, whose office hosts the coalition of organizations opposing the anti-LGBT law, has been under investigation by the officials in the prime minister’s office for “promoting homosexuality” since mid-March. The organization has been trying to resolve the matter quietly, but activists in Uganda say privately the investigation could be the beginning of an ominous political turn they have long feared — that the law would work not only to destroy the lives of hundreds of LGBT individuals, but also would become a weapon used against critics of the government of President Yoweri Museveni.

Ethics Minister Simon Lokodo said his office had “recommended that [RLP] be suspended pending further investigation” because the group had been “promoting homosexuality and lesbianism,” NTV, one of Uganda’s leading television stations, reported Tuesday. The report said, “The allegation against the Refugee Law Project is that it has been working with … [the coalition] which has been handling the petition … against the Anti-Homosexuality Act” which is due to be heard by the Constitutional Court later this month.

The RLP’s collaboration in opposing the anti-LGBT law is a small part of its work. With a staff of 110, it works primarily on issues affecting the more than 265,000 displaced foreigners now estimated to be in Uganda. It also provides legal assistance to a large number of clients, and currently handles around 3,000 open cases, said its director, Chris Dolan

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