12 March, 2012, Esther Nakkazi
Reverend Father Simon Lokodo is the State minister for Ethics and Integrity in the Uganda cabinet. He is also the elected Member of Parliament representing Dodoth County, Kaabong district. He is a former catholic priest. He recently disbursed a gay people workshop in Entebbe and told them to go home. He talked to Esther Nakkazi about why.
Qn: Amnesty International referred to that act as an ‘outrageous attempt to prevent lawful and peaceful activities of human rights defenders in Uganda.’ Didn’t you violate people’s rights?
When you talk rights, you disturb my mind, rights are absolute. I want to object to anybody who talks about rights [frax09alpha]because they are limited and conditioned by the rights of others.
You do not enjoy your rights at the expense of another person’s rights. We are saying don’t come out here to recruit. It’s a violation. As a matter of fact I should have arrested them for supporting and encouraging each other but I advised them as brothers and sisters to go home.
This country is governed by the rule of law. We have enough laws to govern these citizens so that they are not left stranded. The reasons for rights and violations are not sound. Why would they engage in activities that would disrupt the comfort of others?
Qn: What actions were they engaged in?
If they had remained indoors it would not be a problem to society or us, they would not have disturbed anyone’s peace but they came out and provoked others. They were jubilating moving up and down as if it was a legal entity. They were having fun and leisure. They were giving the impression that this country allows what they were doing but it is illegal and against the law –the constitution and Penal Code.
Qn: On what basis did you close down the meeting?
The action was on the basis of my mandate as the Directorate of Ethics and Integrity; we have to promote moral values in this country. These people had been meeting for four days, trying to empower themselves- building capacity. Our laws condemn it and our culture does not promote it.
Qn: When we talk about culture, how would your community—the Karamojong—react to gay people?
In Karamoja, if they know you are gay you are assassinated. They push a piece of wood through your behind and leave you to go die in the bush.
Qn: As a former priest in the Catholic Church, what are your feelings about gay people?
I think homosexuality is a mental perversion. They are like anybody who has suffered a calamity in life. All the person deserves is treatment. They are sick and deserve tolerance but we will not encourage their situation to make other people become as sick as they are. They are human beings but we do not want them to procure their status so that other people get it.
If we find them recruiting we sentence them—we do not want them to contaminate more people with that ideology. We want to isolate them so that other people do not find it an honorable thing to do.
Qn: Do you think the anti-homosexuality Bill that was reintroduced in parliament recently will be passed?
This is a private members Bill. In my observation, it will win 99.9 percent applause. Most Members of Parliament have even been saying it is overdue. Can you imagine a Member of Parliament standing to oppose that Bill and their constituents see them, that would be an automatic ticket to take you home. Some people are custodians of the values of this country.
Qn: You have described yourself as a watchman in all this.
I see my position as that of a watchman to announce the danger so that people escape it. It is as if I will be called to judgment if I do not pronounce the dangers to this act. I act like a shepherd who rescues his sheep (read the Bible of Ezekiel 33/34)
Qn. Do you get people calling on you for help?
I see this everyday. Many of them seek help from me. Unfortunately, most of those who come have been damaged already. They have their behinds oozing with pus, moving with pampers. I ask them why they subject themselves to this torture – some say they are total orphans and want to support their siblings. Or put a roof over their heads.
They send their complaints to the Ministry website www.dei.go.ug. But I also have those who fight me hard.
Qn: You say you get threats, who fights you?
I get lots of threats. I have found that it is true that there are some clergy, especially pastors who are perpetuators of homosexuality in Uganda. For some it is an economic strategy. So some see me as a threat to other economic flow. Coming midway through their earnings and their victims. Depriving them of their income is like punishing them and they are ready to fight to the end.
Qn: How has the Catholic Church responded to you in all this?
The church has been very supportive and encouraging. They have applauded my initiative and are praying for me. I have been very useful to the church –able to protect the values of the church or my religion. They say ‘your presence there is a call.’ It is a call for me at a national and international level.
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