Ugandan Government Shuts Down LGBT+ Organization, Members Call The Move A ‘Clear Witch Hunt’ 

Uganda’s government this week decided to shut down operations of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a non-governmental organization that works on improving LGBT+ rights in the nation. The government released a statement in which they explained that the group was operating illegally in the country. 

Members of SMUG responded by calling the move a “witch hunt” against the LGBT+ community. 

Embed from Getty Images

Uganda’s National Bureau for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO Bureau) said Friday the “group operated without being registered in the NGO Bureau.” The group initially tried to register in 2012, but was rejected “on grounds of being undesirable.”

SMUG members released a statement this past Friday stating that the choice to shut down the group’s operations was a “clear witch-hunt rooted in systematic homophobia that is fueled by anti-gay and anti-gender movements.” 

“The refusal to legalize SMUG’s operation that seeks to protect LGBTQ people who continue to face major discrimination in Uganda, actively encouraged by political and religious leaders, was a clear indicator that the government of Uganda and its agencies are adamant and treating Ugandan gender and sexual minorities as second-class citizens,” the group stated

“The government should uphold their obligations to protect all Ugandans regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, expression, and sex characteristics.”

Embed from Getty Images

Uganda is no stranger to anti-LGBT+ policies and laws. In 2009 the nation introduced an anti-homoseuality bill that included a death sentence for gay sex. Lawmakers in the country passed another bill in 2014 that replaced the death penalty punishment with a proposal for life in prison. 

That law was ultimately struck down, but lawmakers have attempted to reintroduce it in more recent years. 

Uganda is known as a socially conservative country, beyond just their restrictions to the LGBT+ community. In 2014 they introduced the Anti-Pornography Act which banned mini-skirts, and arrested victims who were subject to revenge porn. 

LGBT+ community members in Uganda face arrest, assault, and overall persecution for their identity.


Jussie Smollett Indicted, Again, Over False Hate Crime Reports

TV actor Jussie Smollett is back in the headlines this week as the former Empire star has been indicted recently on six new charges regarding his supposed “hoax” attack that occurred in the beginning of last year. The charges have Smollett facing six counts of disorderly conduct and lying to Chicago police about the details and validity of the attack. 

On January 29th 2019, Smollett, a gay black man, said he was walking home from a sandwich shop at two in the morning in downtown Chicago when two men approached him. The two men supposedly began attacking Smollett while shouting a slew of racist and homophobic slurs. The situation, according to the original reports, then became even more aggressive as the men began screaming “this is MAGA country” at the actor while pouring bleach on him and tying a noose around his neck. “MAGA” of course referring to Donald Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ campaign slogan. 

One month after the initial police report filing, to most Americans’ surprise, Smollett was the one who ended up getting charged with 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct. The charges stated that Smollett hired the two men to stage a “racist and homophobic attack” against him late at night in Chicago. 

Embed from Getty Images

Yet again, one month later, the story got even more interesting when all 16 counts of disorderly conduct were dropped against Smollett. Prosecutors, and the judge working on his case at the time, agreed to drop the charges due to a lack of evidence and too many inconsistencies within all witness accounts of the supposed staged attack against Smollett. 

“I have been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one. I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I’ve been accused of. This has been an incredibly difficult time, honestly one of the worst of my entire life. But I am a man of faith, and I am a man that has knowledge of my history, and I would not bring my family, our lives or the movement through a fire like this. I just wouldn’t,” Smollett stated after his initial charges were dropped in March 2019. 

Embed from Getty Images

Now, nearly one year after the entire back-and-forth ordeal, Smollett is due back in court on February 24th to face Chicago Police yet again. When the initial charges against Smollett were made in February of last year, the police states that Smollett was very publicly unhappy with his salary on the show Empire, so much so that he likely staged the attack as a means to drum up even more publicity for the show, and create empathy for Smollett himself. 

Police typically don’t take too kindly to having their time wasted, so this time around, Smollett is being charged and sued by the city for over $130,000. The large sum of money would be used as overtime payment for the officers who worked with Smollett on his initial report of the attack, and who spent the month deeply investigating the attackers who were suspected to have done this at the time.

Dan Webber is the special prosecutor who a judge initially appointed to investigate Smollett and his dropped charges back in August, 2019. Webb investigated the charges, the reasons they were dropped and all individuals involved; one of which is Kim Foxx, the state attorney for the specific county in which the “attack” occurred. Foxx is being investigated for a repeated pattern of favoring rich, powerful, and influential clients in regards to who deserves to be prosecuted, and who deserves to have their charges dropped. 

Smollett already has paid over $10,000 to the city of Chicago “as payment in full in connection with the dismissal of the charges against him,” according to his attorney, so only time will now tell how this story will finally come to a close.