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Ugandan minister fails to shut down festival ‘for celebrating gay people’

Ella Braidwood September 5, 2018

A photo taken on September 2, 2017 shows Uganda's DJ Kampire performing on stage during the Nyege Nyege Festival, the annual four-day international music festival, in Jinja, Uganda. - The Ugandan authorities announced on September 4, 2018 the ban of one of East Africa's most important electronic music festivals, as they they believe it promotes sex, homosexuality and other practices that are considered immoral, but which the organizers are defending. (Photo by Martin Kharumwa / AFP) (Photo credit should read MARTIN KHARUMWA/AFP/Getty Images)

A popular music festival in Uganda is going ahead as planned, after a government minister attempted to get it cancelled on the grounds that it caters to the “celebration and recruitment of young people into homosexuality and LGBT movement.”

Simon Lokodo, Uganda’s minister for ethics and integrity, wrote a letter to the country’s minister of internal affairs Jeje Odongo on September 3 calling for the annual MTN Nyege Nyege music festival to be shut down.

In the letter, which was circulated on Twitter, Lokodo argued he had received “credible information” from religious leaders and local authorities that “the purpose of this festival, in the last two years, has been compromised to accommodate the celebration and recruitment of young people into homosexuality and [the] LGBT movement.”

Lokodo wrote a letter to the minister of internal affairs calling for the festival to be cancelled. (McCoolingtons/Twitter)

He added: “The underlying motive of this heavily advertised event may compromise the national integrity and put our citizens at risk of deviant sexual immorality.”

However, on Wednesday, the Ugandan government knocked back Lokodo’s recommendation to cancel the event, which runs from September 6 to September 9 at the Nile Discovery Beach Resort in the town of Jinja in the south of the country.

The official Twitter account  for government’s media centre posted a statement from Lokodo.

“After consultation, intra government and security agencies as well as discussions with the event organizers this morning, we have now found middle ground,” the statement reads.

It continues: “I now, therefore, take the opportunity to inform the public that the event is now cleared to PROCEED.”

Organisers of Nyege Nyege also confirmed that the festival would go ahead, posting on Twitter: “Hoping you hadn’t unpacked your dancing shoes. #MTNNyegeNyege is still happening.”

The government of Uganda’s media centre confirmed that the festival was still going ahead in a statement on Twitter. (UgandaMediaCent/Twitter)

In a statement to PinkNews, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), an activist group campaigning for LGBT+ rights in the country, said: “SMUG is dismayed by the continued slander by some individuals whose aim is to score political capital by maligning LGBTI community.

“We call upon the LGBTI community to exercise vigilance as they go about their day to day activities.”

More: Africa, Homosexuality, Nyege Nyege, Uganda, Uganda

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