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OBITUARY: Fr. Simon Lokodo, morality champion, dies at 64

Priest-turned-politician was loved and hated in equal measure for fighting homosexuality

Kampala, Uganda | IAN KATUSIIME | Father Simon Lokodo, the former minister for Ethics and Integrity, who waged a war on minorities like the LGBT community and proposed to ban the miniskirt, died on Jan. 28 in Geneva, Switzerland. He was 64.

According to the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) where Lokodo was a member, the former minister died on official duty while leading a delegation from the body to the 40th session of the UN Universal Periodic Review session. Uganda was one of 14 countries undergoing a review of its human rights record as required of all UN member states.

Lokodo often drew the ire of Ugandans for his uncompromising stance on hedonism and sometimes misguided attempt to fight immorality. He attempted to ban the Nyege Nyege Festival, a very popular event in Uganda that attracts thousands of revelers from East Africa and beyond.

In his 10 years as minister of Ethics, Lokodo shut down workshops organised by the gay community in Uganda, called for the arrest of homosexuals and his activism on the matter played a part in Uganda being designated in some sections of Western media as one of the most dangerous places to be gay on the planet. Lokodo was vocal in the passing of the short-lived Anti-Homosexuality Act 2014 that was months later struck down by the Constitutional Court on a technicality.

In June 2021, Lokodo was dropped from cabinet and appointed a member of the UHRC. Following his death, feminists and other minorities he angered with his conservative views, expressed relief on social media.

Lokodo was also vital in the passing of the Anti-Pornography Bill which criminalised songs and videos that were deemed erotic and sensual. It was under the same law that Lokodo intended to ban the mini skirt.

The law faced a lot of criticism from many social groups and in 2021, the Constitutional Court outlawed it after several petitions from rights groups. Fr. Lokodo however won support from sectional of the Christian Pentecostal movement.

Political career

Lokodo transitioned from priest to politician in 2006 when he took part in a by-election for Dodoth County, Kaabong district. The decision however got him defrocked by Pope Benedict XVI. Lokodo’s problems with the Catholic Church however did not deter him. He kept identifying as Father and became more radical in his approach.

“The day I was ordained a priest in 1986 was my happiest, and the saddest was when I was suspended for joining politics. I have given them (the Catholic Church) headache because I still use my title and live as a priest. They were waiting to see me get married and produce children, but I didn’t,” Lokodo was quoted as saying.

In 2009, President Museveni appointed Lokodo as minister for Industry and Technology. In 2011-2016, Lokodo represented Dodoth West and that term he was appointed as Ethics minister. Lokodo became known for his extremist views on sexuality, lifestyle and morality. He attacked guest houses for promoting sex and once shocked HIV-AIDS activists when he said he discards condoms he finds in hotel rooms saying they promote promiscuity.

Lokodo tabled a proposal for the government to buy a pornography detection machine at a cost of Shs300 million. In his quest to fight pornography, Lokodo instituted the Pornography Control Committee which had no clearly defined agenda but nonetheless had members, mainly Pentecostals.

In 2019, Lokodo clashed with his Pentecostal allies when he said they should possess formal theological training before they could start a church. After the leaders of Pentecostal churches met President Museveni, Lokodo’s idea was dropped immediately. Lokodo had a Masters of Arts Degree (M.A) in Biblical Theology from Urban University, Rome, Italy and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theology from the same University.

Lokodo was born on October 28, 1957. Before he entered politics, Lokodo was a parish priest at Kaabong Catholic Parish. He held various roles in the Kotido and Moroto Dioceses.


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