Ugandan ex-minister who backed death penalty for gay people dies
KAMPALA — A former Ugandan ethics minister who championed a bill to introduce the death penalty for same-sex relationships and sought to regulate what women could wear died on Saturday, officials said.
Simon Lokodo — a one-time Catholic priest ex-communicated by the church, whose homophobia attracted global condemnation — died aged 64 in a hospital in Geneva.
Government spokesman Ofwono Opondo announced the news of Lokodo’s death during a radio program on Saturday.
The country’s National Human Rights Commission, where Lokodo served after a decade as ethics minister, expressed “great shock and pain” at losing their colleague.
President Yoweri Museveni said Lokodo “served the nation gallantly” and would be missed.
His “firmness against immorality & his desire to enforce culture exceedingly stood out”, Museveni said in a tribute posted on Twitter.
Lokodo was best known internationally for drafting legislation that could have imposed the death penalty for homosexual relations in his homeland.
A watered-down version of the so-called “Kill the Gays” bill was quashed by a top court in 2014.
But the setback didn’t stop the fervent Christian from railing against what he saw as a foreign conspiracy to import homosexuality into Uganda.
A hated figure among the gay community, Lokodo threatened to lead attacks against the police facilitating Pride parades or declining to prosecute attendees at LGBT bars.
He also drew the ire of feminists when in 2014 he sought to outlaw certain items of clothing, prompting attacks on women wearing miniskirts.
The move sparked angry demonstrations and the bill — which Lokodo said was misinterpreted — was eventually quashed.
Lokodo was widely ridiculed in 2016 when he announced he had secured a deal to import an “anti-porn machine” which would detect and block online pornography, a plan which never materialized.
In 2018, he attempted to ban a four-day international music festival on the banks of the Nile River, accusing revelers of engaging in sex, bestiality and devil worship.
This crusade was overruled by ministerial colleagues.
In 2016, British broadcaster Stephen Fry, who is gay, revealed that he attempted suicide after interviewing Lokodo in 2012.