Justice Steven Musota today presided over the hearing of the “Lokodo case” as it’s commonly known; were lawyers of both parties highlighted their submissions to bring him up to speed with the case. He takes over the originally assigned judge; Judge Eldad Muwangusya who was transferred to a higher court.
Honorable Father Simon Lokodo (the minister of ethics and integrity) along with the Attorney General Peter Nyombi; was sued by four gay activists; Jacqueline Kasha Nabagesera, Julian Pepe Onziema, Frank Mugisha and Geoffrey Ogwaro on behalf of the LGBTI community in Uganda: for interrupting and closing a capacity building workshop on 14th, February, 2012, in Entebbe.
State attorney Mutesi Patricia called for the dismissal of the case stating that the minister acted in the interest of the general public by closing the workshop whose aim; as stated in his affidavit was promoting homosexuality and that he was protecting the moral standards of Uganda.
Four Months after the closure of this workshop; police raided Esella Country Hotel in Kiira Town Council and dispersed yet another workshop and arrested some of the participants.
The applicants are calling for an injunction to curtail future closure of workshops and seek a compensation of 20million shillings each for the closure of the workshop if the case is won.
In a sparsely filled court, there were arguments and rebuttals from both parties. Justice Musota appeared calm and neutral; unwavering even when the state attorney gave a hypothetical case of terrorists who meet for the sole agenda of planning terrorist attacks; arguing that the only reason the workshop was organized was to equip participants with skills in same sex activity and avail them materials like condoms and lubricants.
Key facts to note about the case
1. On 14th, February, 2012, Minister of ethics and integrity (Father Simon Lokodo) raided and closed down a capacity building (Planning, Advocacy and Leadership skills) workshop at Imperial Resort hotel in Entebbe.
2. Applicants: Jacqueline Kasha Nabagesera, Julian Pepe Onziema, Frank Mugisha and Geoffrey Ogwaro.
3. Respondents: Rev Father Simon Lukodo, Attorney General.
4. Contentious issues of case
• Whether by organizing and conducting the workshop, they were committing an offence: it’s important to note that section 145 of the constitution is against acts of homosexuality but the participants at the workshop were engaged in training in leadership, economic empowerment and human rights among others. None of the affidavits of the second respondent alluded to any incident of such nature as stated in section 145:
• The constitutional rights of the applicants were infringed upon by the respondent. The participants were found having tea in the conference room. The minister therefore acted arbitrarily; with no justification whatsoever.
• The minister perceived the workshop content to be controversial and unpleasant to the general public. It is an important duty of the state to abstain from interfering with the freedom of association and assembly.
• Whether the workshop was illegal regarding the fact that it was organized by homosexuals.
• That the second respondent (Father Simon Lokodo) be sued in his own personal capacity because it was him who closed the workshop.
22nd January, 2014 has been set as the date for mention from which the final day of ruling will be set.