The National Bureau for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO Bureau) has suspended the operations of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) over its failure to register with the regulatory body.
The NGO Bureau under the Ministry of Internal Affairs is mandated to register, regulate, monitor, inspect, coordinate and oversee all NGO activities in the country.
According to Okello Stephen, the Executive Director of NGO Bureau, they held engagements with SMUG on the 2nd and 27th June 2022 to understand the legal status of the entity after a number of concerns were raised regarding the operations of SMUG. He said SMUG’s operations contravene section 29 (1), 31(1) and 31 (2) NGO Act 2016.
It was established that SMUG continues to carry out its operations although it is neither incorporated with Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) nor registered with the NGO Bureau. It however emerged that SMUG had made an attempt to reserve its name with URSB in 2012 for incorporation purposes however the name was rejected on grounds of being undesirable
“SMUG operates in its own capacity and has partnerships with some Government institutions such as Ministry of Health, Uganda Human Rights Commission and Uganda Police,” he said.
He said the main objective of SMUG is to fight against discrimination of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) persons in Uganda; and there was no reliable record of the actual physical location of SMUG and the representatives of SMUG were reluctant to disclose the same.
The NGO Bureau also engaged a number of stakeholders that SMUG was partnering with and established that the partners were not aware that SMUG was operating illegally.
“It is against this background that the NGO Bureau has taken the decision to halt the operations of SMUG with immediate effect. The NGO Bureau calls upon the general public and all its stakeholders to take note of this decision,” he said.
He urged all NGOs operating in the country to do so within the ambit of the law by ensuring that they are fully incorporated, registered and are operating with a valid NGO permit from the NGO Bureau.