Introduction of Uganda Gay Association
We are a group of Ugandans who started the Ugandan Gay Association (UGA) under the cover up name, “Downtown Entertainment”. The association has so far registered over 100 gay members which number has been steadily growing in the past two years when we first started. We have been organizing exclusive social gay events at least every six months and the persistent one of these is the ever growing annual gay scream night, this was started as an annual whole night of gay fun and socializing four years ago before even forming this association.
To be honest, given a wide range of expatriates flowing in this ever green country and a lot of Ugandans getting foreign culture exposure, the gay community here has tremendously developed. As you already be aware that gay rights are very limited in many countries like ours, our operations are most of the times very exclusive/under cover in order to be on the good side of the law.
In this endeavour to push our cause to the next level, we sought of ways to involve foreign counterparts who could boost us with both financial and morale support which we need in lots. We are also highly looking into inviting and fully hosting fellow counter parts to our fan filled events in Uganda and also getting invited to foreign similar events.
We are putting all our efforts together to justify our rights considering the fact that this is who we are and it’s time to come out of the wraps, fully claim our rights has Gay Law Abiding Citizens. The only challenge is how the people are going to conceive the whole idea since its considered taboo (embracement) here. However, the whole solidarity of the Uganda Gay Association is well aware and prepared for all the negativity which is bound to storm from allover.
The purpose of writing to you this letter is to introduce our presence and existence here and make contact hence creating solid relationships between us and you guys out there.
The other issue is, our company “Down Town Entertainment” offers a lot of services which include music Artistes Management, Models, events management, etc. However, it is almost impossible here to mobilize sponsorship for gay social events in particular , so sometimes we are cut short because of lack of financial sponsors to do this or that. The relationship we are creating with you should benefit both of us in terms of sponsorships, hosting us there or hosting you here, etc.
We will be very grateful if you successfully consider this relationship and reply us. You can reply on the above addresses or call at any time of your convenience.
Uganda Gay Association.
26 February 2007
One step forward, two steps back for Africa’s gay people
by Stephanie Nieuwoudt
Nairobi, Kenya – The issue of lesbian and gay Africans’ human rights again came to the fore recently as Anglican Church leaders met in Tanzania amid the continuing row over the consecration of a gay United States bishop in 2003. An ultimatum was sent from the conference in Dar es Salaam to US bishops to make a commitment that same-sex unions would not be blessed. African Anglicans have opposed the American Gene Robinson’s consecration as bishop on the basis of his sexual orientation. The meeting followed the World Social Forum held in Nairobi, Kenya, in January this year where hundreds of people flocked to the so-called Q-Tent in a country where homosexuality has been criminalised.
In the tent, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people from all over the continent and the globe shared their experiences of discrimination. They also spoke about the progress being made towards realising human rights for LGBT minorities. The Anglican Church’s discussions in Tanzania this week took place in a country that criminalises homosexuality. Zanzibar has recently passed a law punishing people who engage in homosexual acts with prison sentences of up to 15 years. Lesbians found guilty of "improper conduct" can be sent to prison for seven years. Tanzania is one of several African countries where lesbians and gays are being denied their human rights. These measures seem to be in reaction to advances in lesbian and gay rights made in Southern Africa.
In Nigeria, the Parliament is considering a Bill to prohibit gay and lesbian people from marrying or even politically organising themselves. Rwanda and Zimbabwe are another two countries that have strengthened their anti-homosexual legislation. In Uganda and Kenya, a "homosexual act" can land someone in jail for 15 years. After police harassment of lesbian and gay activists in Uganda, a campaign was run to "out" lesbian and gay individuals by publicising their names. Numerous activists, including the leader of Sexual Minorities of Uganda, Juliet Victor Mukasa, have fled Uganda, fearing for their lives.
In Southern Africa, the lesbian and gay movement has made great strides. In South Africa, the rights of lesbians and gays to marry were recently entrenched in a new law. A pilot project to sensitise children in secondary school about homosexuality is being considered in South Africa’s Gauteng province. Administrators in KwaZulu-Natal have indicated that they, too, are looking at the possible introduction of this programme. In neighbouring Namibia, an active gay and lesbian community has through persistent campaigns managed to start a conversation with the religious sector.
The NGO The Rainbow Project, which fights for lesbian and gay human rights in Namibia, has organised meetings between religious leaders and the LGBT community. While many lesbian and gays become alienated from organised religion because of homophobic statements made by clergy, there are religious leaders who promote the rights of sexual minorities, said Ian Swartz, chairperson of The Rainbow Project. As example, he stressed that the Anglican Church is divided on the issue of Robinson. He said many lesbian and gay Africans remain religious, making it necessary to talk to religious leaders about the acceptance of sexual diversity.
"They want to go to church because they still identify with the religious values that they grew up with. For many the church is the place where they find answers to life’s questions," said Swartz.
Liz Frank, a former chairperson of the Coalition for African Lesbians (CAL) and editor of the magazine Sister Namibia, said the advances in South Africa and Namibia had a lot to do with the spirit of democratisation that swept through these countries from the late 1980s onwards.
"South Africa, where the rights of all people are protected in the Constitution, undoubtedly sparked change which is influencing the rest of Africa," Frank said. This is especially visible in the proliferation of civil society groups that are organising around lesbian and gay issues. One example is the Coalition for African Lesbians (CAL), led by South African Fikile Vilakazi. It represents 13 organisations in 11 African countries. The CAL does feminist research, analysis and documentation. It also lobbies for women’s rights at local and national level. According to Frank, "South Africa is more than an example to the rest of the continent. The many activists and organisations who have struggled so hard for sexual minority rights have been a resource to us. People have been assisting us in Namibia with strategic planning, organisational development, lobbying and advocacy.
"They have helped us to break the silence and respond to hate speech. Through this we have begun to build the African LGBT movement." While civil society is organising to claim human rights for LGBT people, politicians still enjoy playing the homophobic card when it suits them. "It usually happens when the government faces some kind of crisis that they want to cover up," Swartz said.
"After homophobic statements have been made in public by church or political leaders, one can feel that a few steps backwards are being taken. We then usually see an increase in verbal and physical attacks against the LGBT population," he continued. "Some political and church leaders are fond of denouncing gays and lesbians as ‘causing’ moral decay. But the fact is that some of these leaders are the very people who promote aggression and discrimination." — IPS
4 July 2007
The Homosexual Struggle is a Human Rights Issue
by Opiyo Oloya, Kampala
PERSPECTIVE OF A UGANDAN IN CANADA
Dear Dr. Nsaba Buturo, Minister of Ethics and Integrity, I understand where you are coming from in making homosexuals appear to be dangerous deviants that should be relegated to the dustbin of society. In fact, your utterances about gays remind me of someone I once knew – me. You see, when I arrived in Canada in 1981 as a refugee, I came face to face with an alien culture that turned my life upside down.
At Queen’s University in Kingston, about two and half hour drive from Toronto, I became aware of an organisation called the Queen’s Homophile Association (QHA). When I asked fellow students what the organisation was about, I was told that it supported homosexuals, bisexual and transidentified individuals to live openly and positively with their sexual orientation. I did not know what all those terms meant. Imagine my horrors when it was explained to me that members of QHA were young men and women who were attracted to their own gender rather than the opposite sex. I was thoroughly confused, disgusted, and very scared.
Nothing in my upbringing in Pamin-Yai village, west of Gulu town had prepared me for what I saw as an abomination to society. I was afraid that, alone in this twisted new world, I might become a victim of these strange people who could hurt, worse, make me a member of their group. I had no experience to fall back on since I had never met a gay person, let alone spoken to one. I was complete in my ignorance, prejudice and deep fear of homosexuals. As the 1980s turned into the 1990s, more homosexuals began "coming out" in the open in Canada.
Coming out was the most radical statement a gay person could make at the time, namely, telling family, friends and the larger society that he or she was homosexual. In the meantime, reports of incidences of violence against homosexuals became routine in Canadian media. Interestingly, I cannot recall any headline about homosexual violence against heterosexuals.
Gays, it seemed, adopted a Gandhi-like approach
15 July 2007
Museveni’s Lawyer to Help Sodomy Victim
by Simon Kasyate
Kampala – President Museveni’s legal aide has offered to help the man who said his rectum was mercilessly torn in repeated homosexual assault between 2002 and 2004. Mr Hussein Kashillingi has promised to help the victim Julius Lukyamuzi alias Julius Kitaka, 26, to rebuild his shattered life by accessing legal redress and medical treatment. Mr Lukyamuzi who was formerly an adopted son of Pastor Grace Kitaka of Liberty Worship Centre Lugala is living a hellish life following the damage to his anal anatomy that has failed to heal. He now goes around padded all day. The visibly traumatised Mr Lukyamuzi has been arrested several times at the instigation of his tormentors who he says want to discourage him from pursuing justice. Mr Lukyamuzi was renamed Julius Kitaka by Pastor Kitaka after the adoption.
"After watching Julius ‘ story on a local television station, I sought to know why justice had eluded him. After meeting him in my office, I decided to help him privately," Mr Kashillingi told Sunday Monitor by telephone on Friday evening. I am prepared to assist as much as I can including paying a lawyer to fight for justice," he added. Kashilling says he was moved by Lukyamuzi’s ordeal. He said he had drawn the attention of Ethics and Integrity minister Nsaba Buturo to Lukyamuzi’s plight. Mr Buturo confirmed he has met Julius over the matter. After listening to him, I asked the internal affairs ministry to investigate and come up with a report on the matter. I thought I couldn’t help in any other way except to first wait for a thorough report from my colleagues in Internal Affairs," he said by telephone on Friday.
Buturo was recently quoted in the press saying homosexuals from Europe and America were threatening him to stop interfering with their freedom with his strong stance against homosexuality. The police said they have re-opened the file on the case of sodomy Mr Julius Kitaka Lukyamuzi had reported against Pastor Kitaka some years ago. "The file was already there, we however regret the error that it was not moving. But what I can confirm to you is that it is moving. What I am not sure is if it has been submitted to the DPP and returned to police with instructions to proceed with the prosecution," said Police spokesman Asan Kasingye.
"I have asked my people here at CPS to brief me on the matter but I have not received feedback from the O/C CID. I am new in this position and the file has been here much longer," said Mr Musana, the Regional CID officer for Kampala Extra. "By Monday I will know how far the investigations will have gone and who exactly is handling the file," he added. This week, the police CID opened a general inquiries file on suspect activities of pastors which include alleged fraud and sodomy. But as the police renew investigations into Pastor Kitaka’s alleged homosexual assault on Mr Lukyamuzi, the pastor has issued a notice of intention to sue Sunday Monitor, the Editor, the complainant Julius Lukyamuzi and another Emmanuel Magara.
The notice culminates from a July 8 front page article in Sunday Monitor entitled "Sodomy in Church" that contained a graphic narration of Mr Lukyamuzi’s ordeal while he stayed with the pastor. Mr Lukyamuzi alleges that he was repeatedly sexually assaulted by Pastor Kitaka and as a result he developed a chronic anal inflammation leading to regular discharge of blood and other fluids. However, Kitaka’s lawyers Kaggwa Ssempala, Mukasa Obonyo Attorneys & Legal Consultants say their client was being framed. Their July 12, 2007 notice to sue, gives the respondents five days to apologise in equal magnitude and pay a staggering $250,000 (about Shs400m) in damages for libel. However Mr Lukyamuzi has said he is ready for the legal showdown with sufficient evidence supported by medical diagnosis.
17 August 2007
Uganda rejects a gay rights call
Uganda will not give equal rights to gays and lesbians nor has it plans to legalise homosexuality, Ethics Minister James Nsaba Buturo has said. He was responding to a call from the Sexual Minorities Groups in Uganda (Smug) which for the first time held a press conference demanding recognition. They also accused the police of brutality and harassment. The gay community is estimated by activists to number 500,000 in Uganda where they face much discrimination. The BBC’s Joshua Mmali in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, said many of those present at the press conference on Thursday wore masks, fearing to show their faces. "We have had enough of the abuse, neglect and violence" said Smug leader Victor Juliet Mukasa
Smug leader Victor Juliet Mukasa said she had been a victim of inhuman treatment. She said police raided her home in 2005, took away documents and arrested her guest, whom they later forced to strip naked. "We were treated in a degrading and inhumane way. Many of us have suffered similar injustice," she told journalists. "We are here today to proclaim that these human rights violations are completely unacceptable. We have had enough of the abuse, neglect and violence."
But Mr Buturo told the BBC News website that homosexuality was "unnatural" and denied claims of police brutality and rights abuses. "If they were being harassed, they would be in jail. We know them, we have details of who they are," he said.
At the press conference, gay activist Dr Paul Ssemugoma called for education on same sex-relationships to reduce the incidence of HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases among the gay community. Uganda has won praise for its vigorous campaign against HIV/Aids. It has helped to reduce the prevalence of the virus – which reached 30% in the 1990s – to single-digit figures. Activists also hit out at the church, accusing the clergy of demonising them. A Kenyan gay man, who had travelled to Kampala to show solidarity with his Ugandan counterparts, said homosexuals in East Africa are forced to live double lives. "These people are subjected into being in forced marriages to cover up, yet they suffer inside," he said.
21 August 2007
Concerns Increase for Safety of LGBT in Nigeria, Cameroon, and Uganda
Nigeria, Cameroon, and Uganda Increase Arrests and Threats toward their LGBT Citizens
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is deeply alarmed by increased violence, arrests, and threats of arrest of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders in three African nations. In recent weeks, 18 men have been detained in Nigeria, purportedly for cross-dressing, 6 gay men have been arrested in Cameroon on the heels of widely publicized detention and trials last year that prompted United Nations intervention, and Ugandan government officials have joined homophobic religious institutions by calling for the arrests of LGBT activists.
"In each of these countries, LGBT people are challenging the wall of silence around homosexuality and gender identity," said Paula Ettelbrick, IGLHRC Executive Director."And in each country the government has responded with attempts to snuff out their peaceful pleas to be heard."
Teargas had to be used this morning to disperse an angry crowd intent on meting out mob justice against 18 gay men who were arrested in Bauchi State on Sunday, August 5.Bauchi is in Northern Nigeria and is governed by Sharia (Islamic law). The men, all whom are in their twenties, have been charged with "vagrancy," under Article 372 Sec 2(E) of the Bauchi State Islamic code which prohibits cross-dressing and the practice of sodomy. If convicted, the men face a one-year prison sentence and twenty lashes. The men were not wearing women’s clothes at the time of their arrest, according to Joseph Akoro, director of the Independent Project (TIP), a Nigerian LGBT organization.
"This leads us to believe that the charges have been drummed up to incite hatred against gay people in the highly charged environment of our country," said Akoro. The men were guests at a straight wedding party held at Benko Hotel, in Yelwa area of Bauchi. A number of other people were originally detained at the party by the police and by the Hisbah, an Islamic anti-vice squad that works hand-in-hand with the police, but all the women and non-Muslims were all released.
According to IGLHRC’s Research and Policy Associate for West Africa, Joel Nana, who attended the hearing this morning before Alkali (Judge) Malam Kanimi Aboubacar in the Tunda Al Khali Area court, the behavior of the crowd was shocking. "Both the prisoners and their lawyers were dehumanized and attacked by the crowd," said Nana. "It seemed as if these men had already been tried and convicted."
In neighboring Cameroon, despite a 2006 judgment from the United Nations and expressions of concern from the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the government continues to arrest gay men. Six men were jailed last week after a young man who had been arrested on theft charges was coerced by police into naming homosexual friends. "The tactics of the Cameroonian government define the term ‘witch hunt,’" said Cary Alan Johnson, IGLHRC’s Senior Program Officer for Africa. "Imagine being forced to denounce your friends. Imagine finding yourself in prison because your name is on a list."
More than 20 people have been detained in the past two years in Cameroon under Article 347 of the Penal Code, which criminalizes consensual same-sex acts between men, a many have been subjected to trials that have proven to be unfair by international standards. In response to the lengthy imprisonment of 11 men in Yaoundé in 2006, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared the arrest of consensual same-sex practicing adults to be arbitrary, and called upon the government to amend Article 347 and "adapt it to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."
In a letter to the Cameroonian Minister of Justice, Steave Neamande, director of Alternatives-Cameroun, a local LGBT organization, expressed horror at the continued pattern of arrest of gay men in his country, noting that, "hardly a month goes by without reports of the arrests of people because of their sexuality."
IGLHRC is concerned for the safety of leaders and supporters of the LGBT community in the East African nation of Uganda, after senior officials went on the public and private radio stations to call for the arrest of leaders of the country’s LGBT movement this morning. Deputy Attorney General Fred Ruhinde and Minister of Ethics and Integrity Nsaba Butoro, were showing their solidarity with a coalition of conservative Catholic, Protestant, Muslim and Bahai congregations-the Interfaith Coalition Against Homosexuality-that has called for the arrest, deportation, and even murder of gays and lesbians..
LGBT leaders in Uganda, working under the banner of Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG) last week launched the "Let Us Live in Peace Campaign," asking for greater attention to the HIV/AIDS-related needs of LGBT Ugandans and thanking the Ugandan police for helping to reduce anti-LGBT violence. With today’s pronouncements by the government, many LGBT are now in fear of their lives again and have gone into hiding. According to SMUG spokesperson Victor Mukasa, "the goal of the campaign is to reach out to all Ugandans so that people realise we are not something imported from the West. We are the homosexual and transgender children of God. All we ask is that we be allowed to live in peace."
For further information please contact:
Cary Alan Johnson, Senior Africa Specialist,
New York, 1.212.430.605
August has proven to be a perilous months for gays in Nigeria and Cameroon, where large-scale arrests have taken place, and in Uganda, where gay activists have gone into hiding after government ministers this week called for their arrest.
First, in Nigeria:
An anti-gay riot occurred this August 21, after 18 young men appeared in an Islamic court in the sharia state of Bauchi to face charges of cross-dressing in women’s clothes.
"Any male person who dresses in the fashion of a woman in a public place will be liable to a prison term of one year or 30 lashes," Muhamad Muhamad Bununu, head of the Hisbah — an Islamic vice squad that works with the police and patrols neighborhoods to enforce the strict observance of conservative Islamic morals and dress codes — told Agence France-Presse. Bauchi is one of a dozen Muslim-dominated states in northern Nigeria that has adopted Islamic sharia law, including criminal law, since 2000, following the end of the military dictatorship in the country of 140 million people. The decision by these states to adopt sharia law "alienated sizable Christian minorities and sparked bouts of sectarian violence that killed thousands," AFP noted in its Tuesday dispatch. The accused youths, 18 to 22, had originally been arrested on August 4 in a police raid on a wedding party at the Benko Hotel in the Yelwa area of Bauchi, at which the police scooped up 45 people, including women and children — but many of them escaped.
The official Nigerian News Agency initially reported that "the police First Information Report (FIR) described the 18 youths as ‘dressed in women’s fashion practicing sodomy as their profession,’" as the Nigerian daily This Day reported, claiming the accused had gathered at the hotel to celebrate a "gay marriage." The accused "were addressing each other as women and dressing as women," Bununu told Reuters. Most Nigerian media, which are overwhelmingly homophobic, followed the government news agency’s line, and said the young men had been arrested at a "gay wedding" for "sodomy," a crime punishable by stoning to death under the sharia law in force in the dozen Nigerian states which have adopted it. Some Western news agencies, like the Associated Press, also initially said that the 18 had been arrested for "sodomy." But by the time the case got to court this Tuesday, the charges had been reduced, and the 18 were formally indicted "under the idle persons and vagabonds section of sharia law," which also forbids cross-dressing, the Hisbah’s Bununu told Agence France-Presse.
Sharia law requires four witnesses to an act of anal penetration for conviction, so Bununu explained to the French news agency, "For now we can’t charge the men with sodomy because we have to have witnesses to testify." The police brought handbags and suitcases containing women’s high-heel shoes and clothing to this Tuesday’s court hearing as evidence. But Joseph Akoro, director of The Independent Project (TIP), a Nigerian LGBT group, told a representative of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) who was on the scene in Bauchi for the court hearing that the young men were not wearing women’s clothing at the time of their arrest. Moreover, Akoro said, the marriage being celebrated at the hotel was a heterosexual one. "This leads us to believe that the charges have been drummed up to incite hatred against gay people in the highly charged environment of our country," Akoro added, referring to Nigeria’s extraordinarily conservative culture in which both Christians and Muslims revile homosexuality as a taboo, and in which draconian anti-gay legislation had been considered earlier this year by the parliament.
That broad-reaching legislation, which was promoted by its supporters as a ban on gay marriage, was denounced in a May 8 New York Times editorial as "in fact an assault on basic rights of association, assembly, and expression" which would have criminalized and provided stiff prison terms for any association or socializing by gays, any speech or writing about homosexuality that did not condemn it, and any advocacy of human rights for LGBT people. The Times editorial called the bill "poisonous." But Nigerian media hysteria around the Bauchi 18, whose trial, the BBC’s correspondent in that state this week said, has become "a celebrity case," may be the signal that the new government of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who was elected the country’s head of state in April, intends to revive the anti-gay bill and its omnibus repressions.
That’s the view of IGLHRC’s senior African specialist, Cary Alan Johnson, who told me: "We’d hoped that the bill was dead, and that the government realized that international opinion was mobilized against it. The proposed anti-gay law had been condemned by the European Union, the Italian parliament, four rapporteurs of the United Nations, and even by the U.S. State Department." "Now," Johnson continued, "My fear is that these arrests and the way they are being framed by the Nigerian media— as ‘sodomy’ that occurred at a ‘gay wedding’ at the hotel when neither happened — is being used to prepare the field for the re-introduction of the bill." Asked by this reporter who he thought had informed the police of the presence of so many young gays at the heterosexual wedding, Johnson said it was "probably the Hisbah, which is similar to the vigilante groups in Iran" that target gay people.
At the end of the court hearing this Tuesday, five of the 18 accused were freed after each paying bail of 20,000 Naira (roughly $158). The 13 others who could not make bail were returned to prison. As the five who’d been freed on bail left the courthouse, trying to hide their faces to avoid being recognized or photographed, they were violently attacked by a stone-throwing crowd of mostly young protestors hollering anti-gay epithets. Some of the stones hit not only police but some of the many Nigerian and foreign journalists who’d come to Bauchi for the court hearing. Police had to fire teargas and shots in the air to disperse the angry crowd.
Joel Nana, IGLHRC’s research and policy associate for West Africa — who’d been sent to Bauchi to observe the court proceeding — said the behavior of the crowd was "shocking." Nana, 25, who was a co-founder of the Cameroon LGBT rights group Alternatives Cameroon before going to work for IGLHRC, said, "Both the prisoners and their lawyers were dehumanized and attacked by the crowd — it seemed as if these men had already been tried and convicted." The next court appearance in the prosecution of the Bauchi 18 has been postponed until September 13 "to give the new prosecutor time to familiarize himself with the case," several Nigerian media reported. The Bauchi 18 are being represented by two lawyers from Nigeria’s Legal Reform and Assistance Project, a non-gay human rights group which had been contacted by IGLHRC.
"It’s one of the positive developments that we’ve been able to develop straight allies in Nigeria who recognize that LGBT rights are an integral part of the human rights fight," IGLHRC’s Johnson told me. But the Nigerian daily This Day reported that one of the defense lawyers, Barrister Ralph Moye, had to ask for an interpreter, as the court proceedings were conducted in Hausa, and he is non-Hausa speaking. English is Nigeria’s official language, but nine major dialects, including Hausa, are widely spoken in different areas of the country.
In Cameroon, six teenagers have been jailed without trial since July 30 on charges of homosexuality following police use of torture to make other youths "name names" of their gay friends in Douala, the country’s largest city with a population estimated at more than 2 million. In Cameroon, homosexuality is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison. Three adolescents had been taken to the police commissariat in Douala’s Bonassama district because they had allegedly stolen something from the house of the parents of one of them. But while the young trio was at the commissariat, one of them received a text message on his cell phone that police said indicated he was involved in a homosexual relationship, according to a report prepared by Sebastien Mandeng, human rights coordinator for Alternatives Cameroon, the group IGLHRC’s Nana had founded. "The police, who used a mixture of coercion, torture, and promises of liberty, forced the adolescents to admit their homosexuality and sign a transcript of that admission— but also to reveal the identity of the six other gay teenagers, who were then arrested," said Mandeng’s report. "The police ambushed those who‘d been named — they called the six boys and got them to come to a rendezvous, and when they showed up they were arrested."
Activist Mandeng said that the police refused to give him any information when he showed up at the commissariat to inquire about the arrested youths and sought to meet with them, but he managed to speak to them from outside the jail through a window of the cell where they were being held, thus learning their identities and what had happened to them. After being held for 10 days in the Bonassama commissariat — more then the three days of detention allowed by law if no indictment has come down – the six teenagers were transferred to Douala’s New Bell Prison, where they are still being held, without trial and without being afforded legal counsel. Commenting on the imprisoned, teenaged Douala 6, IGLHRC’s Johnson said, "The tactics of the Cameroonian government define the term ‘witch hunt.’ Imagine being forced to denounce your friends. Imagine finding yourself in prison because your name is on a list." In a letter to Cameroon’s minister of Justice, Alternatives Cameroon’s Steave Neamande denounced the continued pattern of arrests of gay men in his country, noting, "Hardly a month goes by without reports of the arrests of people because of their sexuality." (For extensive background on the dire situation facing LGBTs in Cameroon and interviews with leading activists, see this reporter’s November 2-8, 2006 Gay City News article, "U.N. Condemns Cameroon Jailings,")
In Uganda, most of that nation’s small group of LGBT activists went into hiding this week following calls for their arrest by Deputy Attorney General Fred Ruhinde and Minister of Ethics and Integrity Nsaba Butoro. Speaking on the Radio One public radio and other private radio stations, the two high government officials, in demanding that the activists be jailed, demonstrated their solidarity with a church-led anti-gay rally Aug. 21, which Butoro attended. Held at a Kampala rugby field, the rally was organized by the Interfaith Coalition Against Homosexuality, an alliance of Christian, Muslim, and Baha’i congregations. At the rally, which drew several hundred people, the anti-gay protesters carried dozens of placards ranging from "Arrest all homos" to "God loves homos, he hates homosexuality," Reuters reported.
Other placards called for the firing and deportation of Katherine Roubos, a 22-year-old U.S. intern at the local independent newspaper Daily Monitor, for reporting on the experiences of gays in Uganda. "Aga Khan, fire Katherine Roubos, homo propagandist," one said, while another read: "Government deport Roubos." The Daily Monitor is part of the regional Nation Media Group partly owned by the Aga Khan, spiritual leader of more than 15 million Shia Ismaili Muslims worldwide. He is visiting Uganda, which is a predominately Christian country with a Muslim minority. The anti-gay rally was designed as a response to the launch of a pro-gay media campaign at an August 17 press conference, the first-ever held by Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a coalition of four LGBT groups headed for the last several years by Victor Juliet Mukasa, a transgendered lesbian and one of the few LGBT activists willing to speak in public. A number of the seven panelists at the SMUG press conference wore elaborate masks to conceal their identities (right, a masked panelist at the SMUG press conference in Kampala)
Mukasa was forced to flee into exile in South Africa in fear of her life after police raided her home two years ago, seized SMUG materials, and forced a friend to strip to prove she was really a woman. Mukasa has now returned to Uganda to pursue a civil lawsuit against the nation’s attorney general who authorized the raid on her home. (For background, see this reporter’s September 14-20, 2006 Gay City News article, "Uganda Witch Hunt Escalates.") Roubros’ Daily Monitor article on the SMUG press conference reported that participants said "police have repeatedly demanded sexual favors or personal bribes in exchange for release from custody. ‘This is not protecting Ugandans, said a man wearing a mask and a name card with the alias ‘Douglas.’ ‘This is not protecting Ugandans, it is threatening people for profit. This is certainly not within the law,’ exclaimed Douglas."
Roubos, a Stanford University student, denied campaigning for gays, saying she was simply doing her work. "I was assigned a story by the editor and I did it objectively. My job is to report on events, not my personal opinions," she told Reuters. Uganda’s laws prescribe prison terms for consensual homosexuality ranging from five years to life imprisonment
21 August 2007
Ugandans hold anti-gay sex rally
Hundreds of Ugandans have taken part an anti-gay rally in the capital to demand the government uphold a ban on gay sex.
The Interfaith Rainbow Coalition Against Homosexuality said the rally at a sports stadium in Kampala showed how much Ugandans deplored homosexuality. Spokesman Pastor Martin Sempa said that Uganda was under "great external pressure to relax its laws" ahead of November’s Commonwealth summit. In Uganda, homosexuality carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. "We are telling them that Africans find homosexuality reprehensible" said Pastor Martin Sempa
Pastor Sempa told the BBC’s Focus on Africa that homosexuals were using the summit to try and "shame, force, coerce, intimidate Uganda into changing our laws". "We are telling them that Africans find homosexuality reprehensible. Leave us alone." The gay community is estimated by activists to number 500,000 in Uganda where they face much discrimination. Gay activists held a news conference last week but many were afraid to show their faces and wore masks. They say they are forced to live double lives for fear of harassment and brutality. Uganda’s government rejected their call for recognition and equal rights.
22 August 2007
Ugandan Rights Group Slams Gay Ban Law
by Webb Malcolm
Nairobi – A Ugandan organization that represents the rights of gays, lesbians and bisexuals says they are deprived of their rights by the country’s law that makes homosexuality illegal. The comments follow an anti-gay protest in the Ugandan capital Kampala on Tuesday, which drew more than 100 demonstrators. Malcolm Webb reports for VOA from Nairobi. The rights organization, Sexual Minorities in Uganda (SMUG) says gays, lesbians and bisexuals in Uganda have suffered abuse, neglect and violence, and they want to be left alone. SMUG representative Laurence Misedah said these people are not doing anything wrong. "We are not harming anyone," he said. "We are requesting them to let us live in peace. We are just trying to let them know that what we are requiring is understanding, and for them to give us space so that we talk to them, because most of them are talking out of ignorance."
Misedah was speaking in reaction to an anti-gay demonstration Tuesday by a coalition of Christian, Muslim and Bahai groups. The protesters carried placards with anti-gay messages and demanding the deportation of an American journalist, Katherine Roubos, who is an intern with the Daily Monitor newspaper in Kampala. She had been assigned to cover gay issues in Uganda as part of her internship. Last week, she covered a news conference held by SMUG, the first of its kind in the country, where the group demanded recognition. The conference and the subsequent news coverage triggered the reaction from the religious groups, who say they are fighting against a campaign to promote homosexuality in the country, which they say is brought in by outsiders. But Misedah says homosexuality in Uganda does not come from abroad. "We have people from deep within the villages who do not even speak English and they haven’t had any exposure to [or] with any white person or any Western ideas," he added. "They should accept us just the way our forefathers did because same sex relationships were in the African tradition."
Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, carrying a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The anti-gay protesters say there is unfair international pressure on the government to review the law in anticipation of their hosting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in November. But Ethics Minister James Nsaba Buturo said last week that gays, lesbians and bisexuals will not be given equal rights, and homosexuality will not be legalized.
24th August 2007
Ugandan leader asked to end gay harassment
by PinkNews.co.uk writer
Human Rights Watch has written to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni asking his government to repeal its sodomy laws and end a long record of harassing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Last week the country’s deputy Attorney General Fred Ruhindi called for the criminal law to be used against lesbians and gays in Uganda. "I call upon the relevant agencies to take appropriate action because homosexuality is an offence under the laws of Uganda," he said. "The penal code in no uncertain terms punishes homosexuality and other unnatural offences."
Section 140 of Uganda’s penal code carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment for homosexual conduct, while Section 141 punishes ‘attempts’ at carnal knowledge with a maximum of seven years of imprisonment. Section 143 punishes acts of "gross indecency" with up to five years in prison, while a sodomy conviction carries a penalty of 14 years to life imprisonment. "For years, President Museveni’s government has drummed up homophobia and denied the basic rights of LGBT people for his own political advantage," said Juliana Cano Nieto, researcher in the LGBT rights programme at Human Rights Watch. If lesbians and gays can be punished simply for speaking up for their rights, the freedoms of all Ugandans are endangered."
A poll published yesterday found that 95% of Ugandans want homosexual acts to remain illegal. Government officials have regularly threatened and harassed lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Ugandans. In October 2004, James Nsaba Buturo, the country’s information minister at the time, ordered police to investigate and "take appropriate action against" a gay association allegedly organised at Uganda’s Makerere University. State-owned media have repeatedly called for stronger measures against homosexual conduct. In 2005 an article in the government-ownedNew Vision newspaper urged authorities to crack down on homosexuality.
"The police should visit the holes mentioned in the press, spy on the perverts, arrest and prosecute them," it read. "Relevant government departments must outlaw or restrict websites, magazines, newspapers and television channels promoting immorality – including homosexuality, lesbianism, pornography, etc." In 2005 Uganda became the first country in the world to introduce laws banning same-sex marriage. Human Rights Watch’s plea for tolerance came a week after an organisation called Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a coalition of four LGBT organisations, launched a campaign called "Let us Live in Peace."
In a press conference in Kampala on August 16th, the group condemned discrimination and violence against LGBT people, as well as the life-threatening silence about their sexualities in HIV/AIDS prevention programmes. In response, Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo told the BBC on August 17th that homosexuality was "unnatural." He denied charges of police harassment of LGBT people, but also declared, "We know them, we have details of who they are." In the wake of the SMUG press conference, Pastor Martin Ssempa organised an August 21 rally in Kampala to address what he called "a call for action on behalf of victims of homosexuality."
Calling homosexuality "a criminal act against the laws of nature," Ssempa led hundreds of demonstrators demanding government action against LGBT people. They also called for the deportation of an American intern at national newspaper The Monitor who had reported on the experiences of gays and lesbians in Uganda. Ssempa, whose Makerere Community Church has received HIV-prevention funding through the Bush administration’s President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) programme, is well-known in Uganda for his campaigns against condom use and homosexuality. He has burned condoms in public to condemn their use in HIV prevention. "Harassing rights defenders and silencing discussion of sexuality threaten more than freedom – they threaten life," said Cano Nieto. "State homophobia and well-funded fanaticism are undermining Uganda’s efforts to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS." Human Rights Watch called on the government to end homophobic statements by top officials and to ensure full integration of issues of sexual orientation and gender identity into nationwide HIV prevention and care programmes.
28th August 2007
Ugandan Muslim sect threaten ‘anti-gay squad’
by Ian Dunt
Muslim youth belonging to the Tabliq movement in Uganda have confirmed they plan to set up ‘Anti-Gay Squads’ to fight homosexuality. Sheikh Multah Bukenya, a senior cleric in the sect, announced the squads during Friday prayers at Noor Mosque in the capital, Kampala. He said: "We are ready to act swiftly and form this squad that will wipe out all abnormal practices like homosexuality in our society. It is the work of the community to put an end to bad practices like homosexuality."
The Tabliqs are well known for their militant – and sometimes violent – measures. In 1991they accused the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) of not serving the interests of Islam and promptly stormed their headquarters to forcibly remove the administration. A few policemen and Tabliqs were killed. The response of police to the announcement was not as forceful as many members of Uganda’s outlawed gay community had hoped. Mr Asan Kasingye, police publicist, said: "The police welcome everybody who wants to work with us to fight crime but they should use legal means."
The debate on gay rights in Uganda has picked up a momentum of its own since homosexuals there bravely addressed a news conference calling for full legal recognition. Religious leaders hurriedly organised a counter-demonstration and accusations of police brutality against the gay speakers soon surfaced. Ethics Minister James Nsaba Buturo told the BBC homosexuality was "unnatural" and denied any police over-reaction. "If they were being harassed, they would be in jail. We know them, we have details of who they are," he said.
Most at the news conference wore masks to protect their identity, however. Conservative forces in Uganda have painted homosexuality as a kind of foreign import but anthropologists point to the well-documented traditions of Bugunda royalty before European colonisation, where gay relationships were openly practised at the court.
22 August 2007
Ugandan Rights Group Slams Gay Ban Law
by Webb Malcolm
Nairobi – A Ugandan organization that represents the rights of gays, lesbians and bisexuals says they are deprived of their rights by the country’s law that makes homosexuality illegal. The comments follow an anti-gay protest in the Ugandan capital Kampala on Tuesday, which drew more than 100 demonstrators.
The rights organization, Sexual Minorities in Uganda (SMUG) says gays, lesbians and bisexuals in Uganda have suffered abuse, neglect and violence, and they want to be left alone. SMUG representative Laurence Misedah said these people are not doing anything wrong. "We are not harming anyone," he said. "We are requesting them to let us live in peace. We are just trying to let them know that what we are requiring is understanding, and for them to give us space so that we talk to them, because most of them are talking out of ignorance."
Anti-gay protesters hold a rally in Uganda’s capital Kampala calling for the enforcement of the country’s laws against homosexuality, 21 Aug. 2007 Misedah was speaking in reaction to an anti-gay demonstration Tuesday by a coalition of Christian, Muslim and Bahai groups. The protesters carried placards with anti-gay messages and demanding the deportation of an American journalist, Katherine Roubos, who is an intern with the Daily Monitor newspaper in Kampala. She had been assigned to cover gay issues in Uganda as part of her internship. Last week, she covered a news conference held by SMUG, the first of its kind in the country, where the group demanded recognition. The conference and the subsequent news coverage triggered the reaction from the religious groups, who say they are fighting against a campaign to promote homosexuality in the country, which they say is brought in by outsiders.
But Misedah says homosexuality in Uganda does not come from abroad. "We have people from deep within the villages who do not even speak English and they haven’t had any exposure to [or] with any white person or any Western ideas," he added. "They should accept us just the way our forefathers did because same sex relationships were in the African tradition."
Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, carrying a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The anti-gay protesters say there is unfair international pressure on the government to review the law in anticipation of their hosting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in November. But Ethics Minister James Nsaba Buturo said last week that gays, lesbians and bisexuals will not be given equal rights, and homosexuality will not be legalized.
31 August 2007
Tracing the Origins of Gay Demands
The seeds for the increasingly brazen demands by gay persons for recognition were born at a conference held in Jinja in September 2004, the Daily Monitor has established. Two weeks ago gays held their first press conference to launch a media campaign advocating for their rights. They complained of police brutality, discrimination and difficulties in dealing with HIV. "Let us live in peace" they demanded through Sexual Minorities Uganda, a coalition of four Ugandan Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender and Intersex organisations. To successfully stop HIV, we must treat every person with the dignity and attention they deserve," they added.
However details emerging from Jinja indicate that the issues they are raising were first discussed at the first ever Gay conference held at the Nile Resort Hotel between September 5 and September 10, 2004. The conference codenamed "East African Symposium on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights" was reportedly organised by a local NGO with the support of a number of donor agencies. The conference attracted 30 Gay activists from Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi, six countries that reportedly form what the gay activists have since termed as the East African Alliance. A preamble of a draft report compiled by an unregistered Ugandan consultancy firm, First Consult, which reportedly facilitated the conference at a cost of US$15,000, indicates that the Jinja conference was a follow up to the All Africa Symposium on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights, which was held in Johannesburg in February, 2004.
The draft report, a copy of which Daily Monitor has seen, shows that the main purpose of the conference was to help build a strong All African Regional Action Plan through organising regional and national alliances. Objectives of the Jinja conference were to train gays on how to organise themselves, to raise the profile and stature and to help eliminate homophobia. The report indicates that there were fears about the suitability of Uganda as a venue for the conference, but that the location of Jinja was deemed to be safe and outside the Ugandan security’s interest. It also indicated that local organisers of the conference spent considerable resources on buying off local security operatives and journalists to ensure that the conference was neither disrupted nor reported about.
According to the report, those who presented a paper at the Jinja conference was a representative from UNAIDS Geneva, Mr. Michel De Groulard, who briefed the conference on his organisation’s stand on Men who have Sex with Men and the then UNAIDS Country Representative, Mr. Del Prado who presented a paper on "Vulnerability of Sexual Minorities to HIV/AIDS". Other presenters included Mr. Marcello Ferreyra from the International Gay and Lesbians Human Rights Commission. Dr. Paul Semugooma presented a paper on "HIV/AIDS Stigma and LGBT". Others included a presenter from South Africa’s based Gay internet publication
September 13, 2007
Uganda’s Anti-Gay Witch Hunt Continues
I wrote the following article for Gay City News — New York’s largest lesbian and gay weekly — in whose new edition it appeared this morning:
A new chapter opened this week in a vicious, media-led witchhunt that is outing gays in Uganda, when a daily newspaper unveiled the latest installment of what it bills as its "Weird Sex Investigation," publishing the names and detailed descriptions of 40 men it claimed are gay. Under the shock headline "HOMO TERROR! We Name and Shame Top Gays in the City," Red Pepper’s Sunday, September 9 issue (right) provided details so precise — physical descriptions, residences, places of employment, and the kind of cars they drive — that those targeted, almost all from the capital city of Kampala or its environs, were easily identifiable to their neighbors and co-workers.
The newspaper’s list includes doctors, businessmen, clerics, broadcasters, lawyers, bankers, actors, musicians, and non-profit group staffers. "This article fingers those named for physical attack," Cary Alan Johnson, senior Africa specialist for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), told me.
Johnson declared, "There is a comprehensive campaign being waged against LGBT rights in Uganda. It includes government and conservative religious leaders. Now the lower end of the media — rags like Red Pepper — are adding their hate-filled voices." Johnson added, "Gay and lesbian-baiting, like that which Red Pepper has engaged in before and is engaging in again, incites violence and destroys lives." One of those whose name appeared in this latest Red Pepper outing list — his real name cannot be given to protect his security — described the situation as "tense, with lots of phone calls and people coming to me face to face within the company [where I work] and family, seeking clarification as to why my name keeps coming up in the press."
This nervous outing victim said in an e-mail, "We are on the lookout for what may come next," and declared he was particularly concerned for his boyfriend, whose "relatives have called a meeting today in his house to discuss this issue after knowing what has been going on, and knowing me for some time as a person they trust to be with their son and had never suspected this. [My boyfriend] is scared, as this is his first encounter with homophobia."
[UPDATE: Today, the author of a gay blog in Uganda e-mailed the new Gays Without Borders list-serv and reported: "Most of the reaction to the Red Pepper outing was at first a despair. Despair and a cringing fear of what is going to happen, what our hostile world is going to dish out to us because now they know we are gay. That was Sunday, and Monday. People had switched off their phones. Others were planning to go into hiding. "Wednesday, and it seems the consensus has changed again. Come up swinging. Fight back. Resist. Anger has come up at last, a definite pride at being Kuchu and also being human and why should we be ‘named and shamed’?. Explore the legal issues. And how else can we fight back? An email campaign. Letters to the Red Pepper, challenging the outing of presumed gay people. It worked before. It can work again. The Red Pepper is not immune to this kind of thing also."]
The first installment of Red Pepper’s hate-filled outing campaign was launched last year on August 8, when the newspaper, under the banner headline "GAY SHOCK!" published the names of 45 allegedly gay and bisexual men. Those outed by the newspaper included lawyers, army officers, university lecturers, entertainers, bankers, students, and priests. Red Paper listed the profession, the city of origin, and in some cases information on the friends and partners of those accused of being gay, most of whom were from Kampala and its suburbs. It also gave a tip line phone number for readers to report on other alleged same-sexers.
This was followed by another barrage when, on September 8, 2006, under the headline "KAMPALA’S NOTORIOUS LESBIANS UNEARTHED," Red Pepper published the names of 13 alleged lesbians, including two boutique owners, a basketball player, and the daughters of a former member of Parliament and of a prominent sheikh.
"To rid our motherland of the deadly vice, we are committed to exposing all the lesbos in the city" of Kampala, the newspaper proclaimed, telling its readers to "send more names" with "the name and occupation of the lesbin [sic] in your neighborhood and we shall shame her." (For more on last year’s launch of the Red Pepper outing campaign, see this reporter’s September 14-20, 2006 article in Gay City News, "Uganda Witch Hunt Escalates.")
Red Pepper — which promises another installment in its anti-gay exposé this coming Sunday — is, however, not alone in media appeals to hate. State-sponsored media have been calling for stronger measures against homosexual conduct. For example, on July 6, a writer in the government-owned newspaper New Vision urged the state to crack down on homosexuality, saying, "The police should visit the holes mentioned in the press, spy on the perverts, arrest and prosecute them. Relevant government departments must outlaw or restrict Web sites, magazines, newspapers, and television channels promoting immorality — including homosexuality, lesbianism, pornography, etc."
Last Sunday’s Red Pepper "Homo Terror" article was explicitly proclaimed by the tabloid as its response to the first-ever press conference held on August 17 by Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), the umbrella organization for Ugandan lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and intersex organizations. At that press conference, SMUG launched its "Let us Live in Peace" campaign, condemning violence and discrimination against homosexuals as well as the "life-threatening" silence about homosexuality in HIV/AIDS prevention programs. Many of those present at the press conference wore masks because they were afraid to show their faces. The press conference was organized by SMUG’s courageous leader, Victor Juliet Mukasa (left), a transgendered lesbian who is Uganda’s most open and visible LGBT leader. She had been forced to flee the country to South Africa in fear of her life after police raided her home in 2005, seized SMUG documents, and arrested her guest, a woman who was forced to strip naked.
Mukasa recently returned to Uganda to launch a lawsuit against the government for the raid, which she said was illegal under the Ugandan Constitution, and to organize the "Let Us Live in Peace" campaign. "We were treated in a degrading and inhumane way," Mukasa said at the press conference of the raid on her home." And, she added, "Many of us have suffered similar injustice. We are here today to proclaim that these human rights violations are completely unacceptable. We have had enough of the abuse, neglect, and violence."
In a clear reference to the SMUG press conference, the Red Pepper wrote last Sunday that, "Since the gay community in Uganda has shown us that they really want to be recognized, we are saying enough is enough. Today we are helping them get the recognition they seem to so badly want by naming all of them one by one." And, the tabloid said, "If you are faint of heart, please stop here because we leave no stone unturned. Our article narrates how the gays network and hook members into their group, what their parties look like, favourite hang out joints plus how they shaft. You will be shocked." It promised photographs in future editions.
Descriptions of the 40 people targeted by Red Pepper included:
"SAMUEL — this gentleman works with MTN [Uganda’s large telecommunications company] as a top officer and is based in a city suburb. He stays along Gayaza Road and he’s in his early 40s. He drives an MTN car. He once got married and had kids before divorcing his wife to settle for young boys. He is the leader of the gay ring in Uganda. He organizes everything that they do and is well known to foreign gay societies."
"CEDRICK — He is a very brown guy with feminine looks and walks like a woman. He is a son of a former top politician. He is married and works in his father’s business."
"MATHIAS — short and small, he looks like a woman. He formerly presented EATV’s ‘Kampala Wire,’ where he was fired."
"WASSWA — A lecturer at Makerere University, he is short and slender. He stays in a historical place in Buganda and drives a blue imposing car."
The SMUG press conference sparked an anti-gay rally by a coalition of Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, and Baha’i denominations, and a series of public threats made by top Ugandan government officials, including calls for arrests. On August 21 , Deputy Attorney General Fred Ruhindi called for the criminal law to be used against gays and lesbians in the country. After this threat, many gay activists went into hiding. Days earlier, Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo publicly called homosexuality "unnatural" — and, while belittling charges that police harassed LGBT people, warned, "We know them; we have details of who they are." (For more details, see this reporter’s August 23-29 Gay City News article, "Crises Across Africa".)
While some countries, including Canada, the Netherlands, and several Scandinavian countries, have protested to the Ugandan government about these threats and the violations of the human rights of LGBT people, the US has been noticeably silent. "I met with the State Department’s desk officer for Uganda last week," IGLHRC’s Johnson told me. "We need to have our embassy in Kampala doing something. They even have a human rights office in the embassy, but so far they’ve been silent about all this."
8 September 2006
Press Homophobia Raises Fears of Crackdown
Human Rights Watch (Washington, DC)
New York – In a country where a sodomy conviction carries a penalty of life imprisonment, a Ugandan tabloid’s decision to publish the names of alleged homosexuals is a chilling development that could presage a government crackdown, Human Rights Watch said today. The lesbian and gay community in Uganda has long been stigmatized and harassed by government officials. "For years, President Yoweri Museveni’s government routinely threatens and vilifies lesbians and gays, and subjects sexual-rights activists to harassment," said Jessica Stern, researcher in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program of Human Rights Watch. "At a moment when sensational publicity has spread fear among a whole community, the authorities must exercise their responsibility to protect, not persecute."
Human Rights Watch called on Ugandan authorities to:
End a long campaign of homophobic statements by top officials, including President Museveni;
Cease arrests under the sodomy laws and promptly repeal them; and
Offer protection against violence and harassment to human rights defenders working to protect lesbian and gay rights.
On August 8, the tabloid paper Red Pepper published a list of first names, workplaces and other identifying information of 45 alleged homosexuals, all men. The paper claimed it was publishing the list "to show the nation how fast the terrible vice known as sodomy is eating up our society." The paper has since told civil society activists that it plans to publish a similar list of alleged lesbians. Homophobic allegations in the Red Pepper have previously led to police action. In 2002, the tabloid ran banner headlines and photographs about an alleged wedding between two women. Kampala police promptly arrested the women in question. Although they were freed when an attorney intervened, they were jailed again and held for several days, allegedly for their own safety, after a mob threatened them. A Ugandan pastor who had counseled them was later forced to leave the country.
Same-sex sexual relations are criminalized in Uganda under a sodomy law inherited from British colonial rule. Section 140 of the Penal Code criminalizes "carnal knowledge against the order of nature" with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Section 141 punishes "attempts" at carnal knowledge with a maximum of seven years’ imprisonment. Section 143 punishes acts of "gross indecency" with up to five years in prison. In both Britain and Uganda, these terms were long understood to describe consensual homosexual conduct between men.
For close to two years, Human Rights Watch said, officials have regularly threatened and harassed lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Ugandans. In October 2004, the country’s information minister, James Nsaba Buturo, ordered police to investigate and "take appropriate action against" a gay association allegedly organized at Uganda’s Makerere University. State-owned media have repeatedly called for stronger measures against homosexual conduct. On July 6, 2005, a writer in the government-owned New Vision newspaper urged authorities to crack down on homosexuality, saying, "The police should visit the holes mentioned in the press, spy on the perverts, arrest and prosecute them. Relevant government departments must outlaw or restrict websites, magazines, newspapers and television channels promoting immorality – including homosexuality, lesbianism, pornography, etc." Later that month, local government officers raided the home of Victor Mukasa, a lesbian activist and Chairperson of Sexual Minorities Uganda. They seized documents and other materials, and arrested another lesbian activist and held her overnight.
On September 29, 2005, President Museveni signed into law a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The amendment says that "marriage is lawful only if entered into between a man and a woman," and specifies that "it is unlawful for same-sex couples to marry." A parliamentary spokesperson said at the time that criminal penalties for engaging in such marriages would be imposed later. The government has also silenced discussion of gay and lesbian rights and lives. The Broadcasting Council, a board of government censors, fined a radio station 1.8 million shillings (more than US$1000) for hosting a lesbian and two gay men on a talk show, where they protested against discrimination and called for repeal of the sodomy laws. In February 2005, the Media Council – a state censorship board – banned a staging of the play, "The Vagina Monologues," by the U.S. author Eve Ensler, because it "promotes illegal acts of unnatural sexual acts, homosexuality and prostitution."
Men named in the Red Pepper’s August 8 article have reportedly already been threatened and harassed. Ugandan activists point out that, in a deeply patriarchal society, accusations against alleged lesbians could subject them to violence in the family and community. U.N. statistics in 2000 showed that 41 percent of Ugandan women had suffered domestic violence. A March 2005 Human Rights Watch report on "abstinence-until-marriage" HIV programs in Uganda found these programs were denying young people accurate information on HIV transmission and on sexual health. These programs also intrinsically discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. With a legal ban in place against gay or lesbian relationships, the programs promote only permanent abstinence and are uniformly silent about safer sexual practices. Promoting abstinence until heterosexual marriage is the continuation of an outright denial by the Ugandan government that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people exist. In March 2002, while accepting an award for his country’s HIV/AIDS prevention programs, President Museveni said simply, "We don’t have homosexuals in Uganda."
"Uganda’s once-successful HIV/AIDS prevention programs are already reeling from the impact of silence and bad science," said Stern. "Driving vulnerable people underground can only hamper those programs further."
13th September 2007
Lesbian torture case to be heard in Uganda
by PinkNews.co.uk writer
The High Court of Uganda has over-ruled the objections of the country’s Attorney General and allowed two lesbian activists who claim that police tortured them to have their case heard. In July 2005 the house of Victor Juliet Mukasa, of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), was raided in the middle of the night by local government officials who seized documents and other material. Another lesbian activist, Yvonne Oyoo, a Kenyan student who was in Juliet’s house on the night of the raid, was arrested and detained by local government officials and then taken to a police station.
Ms Oyoo was subjected to humiliating and degrading treatment. She was arrested and taken to the police station where she was stripped, supposedly in order to confirm she was a woman, and fondled and sexually harassed by police officers. "This was not only very humiliating and degrading, but also a gross violation of my human rights," Oyoo said in her affidavit.
Their case will start on September 21st, ruled Justice Stella Arach-Amoko. They are claiming their rights have been violated and want compensation from the state. Advocates and opponents of LGBT rights were present in the High Court in Kampala yesterday. Last month gay rights activists in Uganda spoke out about the prejudice they face in the country. In a show of defiance and bravery, around 30 people gave a press conference, the first by LGBT activists, drawing attention to the state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia they face every day. Some of the activists wore masks for fear of being identified, while others shocked journalists by outlining the brutality they had faced at the hands of police.
Ugandan law outlaws homosexuality as "against the order of nature." There has been rising tension in the country over gay and lesbian rights in Uganda. Last year thirteen alleged lesbians were outed by the Ugandan tabloid newspaper Red Pepper. There have been a series of government-backed attacks on the Ugandan lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the last few years.
23 September 2007
Uganda: Saggy Fights for Gay Rights
by Harry Sagara, Kampala
At first I thought my ears had a problem, but when she repeated the utterance, I wondered what our radio stations were up to allowing such utterances live on air. In case you are lost; I am talking about Victor Juliet Mukasa’s recent appearance on Capital radio. The chic oba guy, threw all care to the wind and went ahead to describe in graphic detail how certain elements of the male anatomy have penetrated certain parts of her anatomy (am being very polite here). "I have been raped, in an effort to correct me, I have gone to the best schools, I come from a rich background – I have been rejected by society – I just wish there’s a pill I could take to change my orientation," she said.
For the really slow, Victor Mukasa is currently the loudest gay rights activist in Uganda, her utterances on Capital FM culminated into Gaetano Kaggwa being suspended by the media council for allowing fowl language on air-and NOT for hosting a gay activist. (By the way Pastor Ssempa had made similar utterances the previous week on WBS) Anyway, you will realise that for the last few weeks this country has been blanketed by a raging debate about whether we should grant homosexuals and Lebanese (am being politically correct here) their rights.
Everybody I have sounded on this screams murder at the mention of it but as the most brilliant son of West Nile, after Orombi, I think we should grant these people their rights. I mean this is a reality we have to face, why bury our heads in the sand? I believe the fight for gay rights has been grossly misunderstood, the Ssempa’s and the Nsaba Buturo’s of this world think these people are asking for the right to penetrate each other in the wrong areas-hell no! These people do not need anyone’s permission to engage in any below the belt activities, they don’t have to call a press conference for that. These people have been ingia-ring each other ever since 1 B.C (Before Saggy fights for gay rights CHOGM!). What now makes you think they need permission yet all they have to do is go to their respective partners and say the magic word ‘Fungula’ and a chow goes down.
You (yes you reading this) do you carry placards when you want to go and have sex with your partner? Of course not! Gay-ism is not something taught at college, you are either gay or you are not. Period. I know of males who behave like females and vice versa and believe you me they did not decide to be like that, it’s just something that they found themselves in- as a result, they have been branded homos or Lebanese. I think we should just tolerate these people and allow them to be, as long a chap doesn’t touch my butt. We should embrace them, live with them in harmony and then pray for them to multiply and have many descendants! Oh how beautiful it would be to see two homos shopping at Uchumi with their ka baby in a pram!
These people pay taxes like any of us, they contribute to the economic development of this country, whatever they do in their privacy should be none of our business. Lets look after our lubimbi and them theirs. We shouldn’t discriminate against them because they are in our midst, they could be your boss, your son, your daughter, your brother or even your leader. I want to make one final confession here, but please don’t tell anyone. I am lesbian, yes, I am lesbian I like women! But please don’t say!
Buturo Vows to Fight Homosexuality
by Conan Businge
Kampala – The Minister for Ethics and Integrity, James Nsaba Buturo, has vowed to block the demand for recognition of gay’s rights, reports Conan Businge. "The Government shall do whatever it takes to block the spread of homosexuality." People who are agitating for those rights are selfish individuals with callous intention, Buturo said, adding that: "They are trying to impose a strange, ungodly, unhealthy, unnatural, and immoral way of life on the rest of our society."
"I will endeavour to block it. I can assure you on that. Let them go to another country, and not here," the furious Buturo said. His reaction comes a week after the State Minister for Youth and Children’s Affairs, James Kinobe, revealed that a Bill on homosexuality was in the offing.
Kinobe also vowed to oppose the demand for recognition of the gay’s rights. The youth, he said, are the main target of the ‘discreditable and negative forces’. Buturo, who represented the Minister of Information and National Guidance, Kirunda Kivejinja, at the 10th graduation ceremony of YMCA at the institute’s campus in Kampala last week, presided over the opening of an Information Communication and Technology block and a new computer laboratory at the institute’s premises. A total of 983 students graduated with diplomas and certificates in the different courses that included Secretarial Studies, Purchasing and Supplies, Marketing, Tailoring and Fashion Designing, Guidance and Counselling, and Nursery Teacher Education.
October 09, 2007
Time to address love and sexuality among teens born with HIV
Paediatric HIV care is high on the agenda of most HIV programmes today, but less talked about are the social aspects of life as a child born with the virus, and later on, as an adolescent facing the challenges of relationships and sexuality.
" The focus has been on the medical aspects of sexuality, but it goes beyond the physical," said Dr Harriet Birungi, an associate with FRONTIERS, a reproductive health programme of the US-based Population Council. "Sexuality is emotional as well a source of happiness, person fulfilment and well being, and it’s important for us to begin to address the needs of these adolescents as a whole."
Birungi has been part of an as yet unpublished study on the needs and desires of HIV-positive adolescents in Uganda. The study, co-funded by the Ford Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development, was conducted in partnership with 17 Ugandan groups, including The AIDS Support Organisation and the MildMay Centre. It involved 735 adolescents aged between 15 and 19.
According to the Population Council, with the advent of life-prolonging antiretroviral (ARV) medication, the proportion of children perinatally infected with HIV who are living on into adolescence is increasing, with many of them expecting to become sexually active and even have children."
Looking for love
" These children have gone through some hard times, with many of them losing their parents, and many on ARVs," Birungi told IRIN/PlusNews. "It is important to address their needs and ensure they have the right guidance as they go into adulthood.
" About 67 percent of these children have no biological parents, so they are often taken in by extended family and in that process they are separated to spread out the cost of raising them," she noted. "So you find that the boyfriend-girlfriend relationship is, for many of them, the only concrete expression of love they have ever had."
She added that many of them were excluded from education because the families that took them in expected them to die and therefore perceived education to be a waste of money. " Outside the school environment, it is difficult to make friends, and they are also outside a protective environment and vulnerable to sexual advances from older men," Birungi said. "They often end up as married adolescents or single parents, which complicates their lives further."
Despite these difficulties, the research found that these teens have the same desires and dreams as their HIV-negative counterparts. "About 34 percent of them are sexually active, and among those who are not, the majority desire to have sex at some point," Birungi said. "Some want to have children, but others want to pursue careers before settling down."
Discordance, she added, was common, and HIV-negative people often continued to push for a relationship even after discovering the status of the teens. "The study found that the teens desire to be responsible and are very afraid of infecting others," she said. "The possibility of this makes some of them very afraid of sex."
She said the Population Council was currently developing interventions to address sexuality, love and desire among HIV-positive adolescents, which would include counselling on issues like disclosure of status and safe sex, as well as family planning.
"There is a need give them support and practical guidance so they can live full lives that are as normal as possible," Birungi said.
11 October 2007
Rising Homophobia Threatens HIV Prevention
New York – As Ugandan officials and the Ugandan media intensify attacks on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, the US government should condemn these threats, and clarify that it does not support using its HIV/AIDS funding to promote homophobia, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to US officials "When the US funds abstinence-only programs in Uganda, it tells people that LGBT people’s sexualities are dangerous and must be denied," said Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. "Supporting prejudice with cash is an approach with deadly consequences for all." An August 16 press conference by a coalition of LGBT groups in Uganda that launched a campaign called "Let Us Live in Peace," has led to a month-long backlash in the country. Most recently, on September 9, the tabloid paper Red Pepper published a list of first names, workplaces and other identifying information of 39 alleged homosexuals, all men. Headlined "Homo Terror," the article promised to "name and shame top gays in the city."
Previously, Pastor Martin Ssempa, a prominent campaigner against both condom usage and homosexuality, had listed Ugandan LGBT rights activists by name on a website,posting pictures and contact information and calling them "homosexual promoters." Ssempa was the key organizer of an August 21 rally in Kampala, at which hundreds of demonstrators demanded government actions to punish LGBT people, calling homosexual conduct "a criminal act against the laws of nature."
According to the US State Department, Ssempa’s Makerere Community Church received US funding as a 2004 sub-partner of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). This $15 billion program, heavily promoted by the Bush administration, earmarks one-third of spending on prevention of sexual transmission of HIV for "abstinence and fidelity programs," some of which are based on so-called abstinence-only curricula developed in the United States. In a March 2005 report, Human Rights Watch documented how abstinence-only programs in Uganda suppress lifesaving information about condoms and safer sex, and convey that LGBT people’s sexualities are immoral and that there is no "safer" way for them to have sex.
The US Congress Committee on International Relations, chaired at the time by Congressman Henry J. Hyde, brought Ssempa to testify in 2005 as an expert in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa, and as a Special Representative to the First Lady of Uganda’s Task Force on AIDS. Ssempa has also acted as representative and adviser of the office of First Lady Janet Museveni, another PEPFAR grantee. "US politicians and pocketbooks underwrite hatred in Uganda," Long said. "The US has no business lending an aura of respectability to policies that undermine human rights and public health." Meanwhile, Ugandan officials continued to threaten new persecution of LGBT people. On August 21, Radio One in Uganda announced that Deputy Attorney General Fred Ruhindi had called for criminal prosecutions of lesbians and gays in Uganda. In an interview with the Ugandan newspaper Sunday Vision, Buturo said they were "considering changing the laws so that promotion [of homosexual conduct] itself becomes a crime" and to have "catalogues of people we think are involved in perpetuating the vice of homosexuality." He added, "homosexuality is totally unhealthy." Ugandan law punishes homosexual conduct with imprisonment up to life.
The government has censored attempts by LGBT people to speak in their own behalf. In late August, the Uganda Broadcasting Council – a state censorship board – suspended Gaetano Kaggwa, the presenter of Capital FM radio station, for interviewing a lesbian activist on air. The council alleged a violation of "minimum broadcasting standards" because the sexual-rights activist allegedly used "unacceptable language." In October 2004 the Broadcasting Council had fined a radio station 1.8 million shillings (more than US$1000) for hosting a lesbian and two gay men on a talk show, where they protested against discrimination and called for repeal of sodomy laws. At the time newspaper pointed out that the council "is now in effect saying that … [a]nyone arguing on FM radios that society should develop a more tolerant attitude towards homosexuality is committing an offence."
Meanwhile, the Red Pepper threatened to name more lesbians and gays. In 2006, the paper had published a similar list with 45 names. Several men were threatened as a result. In 2002, the tabloid ran banner headlines and photographs about an alleged wedding between two women. Kampala police promptly arrested the women in question. Although they were freed when an attorney intervened, they were jailed again and held for several days, allegedly for their own safety, after a mob threatened them. A Ugandan pastor who had counseled them was later forced to leave the country.
October 25, 2007
Prominent Ugandan Activist Victor Mukasa Joins IGLHRC Staff
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) welcomes prominent Ugandan activist Victor Juliet Mukasa as our new Research and Policy Associate for the Horn, East, and Central Africa.
Victor is a co-founder and the president emeritus of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). Victor is also a founding member of several Ugandan rights groups, including East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (EHAHRDN) (2005), Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) (2002), and the Pan African Group African Solidarity (2006). Victor has also served as a board member of many African and international LGBT groups, including Gender Dynamix (South Africa), Behind the Mask (South Africa), Coalition of African Lesbians (Pan African), and the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA).
"Victor is one of the most respected human rights activists in Africa," said Cary Alan Johnson, IGLHRC Senior Specialist for Africa, "and will greatly increase our capacity to respond to human rights violations in the Horn, East and Central Africa. Her experience, commitment, and courage are unique."
A transgender lesbian, Victor was forced to flee Uganda after police illegally raided her home in 2005 and confiscated documents related to human rights and LGBT organizing. Victor recently returned to Uganda and, along with a Kenyan activist, sued the government for the raid. The judicial decision in that case is currently pending.
Victor will be based in IGLHRC’s Africa regional office, based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is a leading human rights organization solely devoted to improving the rights of people around the world who are targeted for imprisonment, abuse or death because of their sexuality, gender identity or HIV/AIDS status. IGLHRC addresses human rights violations by partnering with and supporting activists in countries around the world, monitoring and documenting human rights abuses, engaging offending governments, and educating international human rights officials. A non-profit, non-governmental organization, IGLHRC is based in New York, with offices in Johannesburg and Buenos Aires. Visit http://www.iglhrc.org for more information
30th October 2007
Ugandan LGBT form IDAHO chapter
by PinkNews.co.uk writer
Gay rights activists in Uganda have come together to create a Chapter of the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) and take part in a landmark debate organised by Queer Youth Uganda. The climate for LGBT people in the country is extremely hostile, and attacks from the media, religious groups and the government are commonplace. Despite this, more than 100 activists and supporters gathered in the capital Kampala to debate the way forward for gay rights in Uganda.
Pastor Kiyimba Yususf Brown, who is the country co-ordinator for IDAHO, commented: "Never before has there been such a far-reaching, well-organised and professional gay public debate in this country."
Among the organisations present were Open Door Counselling Ministries, Spectrum-Uganda, Queer Youth Uganda, Ice Breakers and Uganda Youth Health. The conference was addressed by East Africa International Lesbian and Gay Association representative Sam Ganafa and Sam Opio, chairperson of Queer Youth Uganda, an organisation concerned with youth health and rights.
The guest speaker, Professor Louis-Georges Tin, international co-ordinator of IDAHO, stressed the need for unity among LGBT people and other human rights campaigners and spoke about the achievements of IDAHO to date. He called on the United Nations to adopt a resolution for the "Universal Decriminalisation of Homosexuality."
Derek Lennard, IDAHO UK co-ordinator, commented: "The fact that this meeting took place at all is astonishing. It is clearly up to campaigners in Uganda to decide how they can address the oppression they face. However, I am sure that all those involved in IDAHO campaigns and initiatives in the UK will want to support them in whatever ways we can, and express our pride in working alongside them to fight the international scourge of homophobia and transphobia."
Earlier this month a senior politician in Uganda pledged to block gay rights in the country. James Nsaba Buturo, Minister for Ethics and Integrity, told All Africa news agency that the government is committed to stopping LGBT people "trying to impose a strange, ungodly, unhealthy, unnatural, and immoral way of life on the rest of our society."
2007 has seen the first gay rights press conference and the first anti-gay rally in Uganda. In August gay rights activists in spoke out about the prejudice LGBT people face in the country. 30 people gave a press conference drawing attention to the state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia they face every day. They called themselves the "homosexual children of God" and demanded that attacks on LGBT people stop. Ugandan law outlaws homosexuality as "against the order of nature." Trans people are also targeted by police and regularly subject to abuse and harassment.
The following week churches in the country showed their disapproval with a demonstration organised by the Uganda Joint Christian Council. There has been rising tension in the country over gay and lesbian rights. Last year thirteen alleged lesbians were outed by the tabloid newspaper Red Pepper. There have been a series of government-backed attacks on the Ugandan lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the last few years, including an illegal police raid on the home of Victor Juliet Mukasa, in July 2005.
In September Red Pepper ran another "expose" of prominent gay and lesbians, under the headline "HOMO TERROR! We Name and Shame Top Gays in the City." They claimed to have "full names, workplaces, cars they drive and even where they stay." As well as describing 40 men it claims are gay, Red Pepper’s "expose" explains "how to spot a gay man," "terminologies used by gays" and "how the gay men shaft," a lurid description of gay sex. It claims that lubricants are "sent to the gays here from abroad."
The International Day Against Homophobia is May 17th.
October 30, 2007
Bush Praises Ugandan Strongman Blamed For Gay Human Rights Abuses
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Washington – President Bush met at the White House on Tuesday with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni for talks that focused on trade, HIV/AIDS but seemingly ignored alleged human rights abuses of gays and lesbians. The two emerged from the meeting to appear for a camera opportunity with Bush praising Museveni for his push to lower the AIDS rate in the African nation by emphasizing abstinence until marriage. "Uganda is the epitome of how one can implement a comprehensive ABC strategy to achieve concrete and specific results for the sake of humanity," said Bush.
Money provided to Uganda by the US to fight HIV/AIDS, however is alleged to have to groups that human rights activists say are responsible for attacks on gays. Bush said his administration would "work with Uganda on their eligibility" for the Millennium Challenge. The Bush initiative conditions U.S. aid on a country fulfilling requirements such as commitments to democratic reforms, economic freedoms and human rights. "I told the president this is a very important program," Bush said.
The Millennium Challenge makes no mention of LGBT civil rights. Anti-gay attacks are commonplace in Uganda but have been increasing since August when Ugandan LGBT rights groups for the first time held a public news conference to demand basic civil rights. (story) Many of the participants wore disguises out of fears of government reprisals. A week later supporters of a coalition of Christian and Muslim religious groups filled a downtown stadium demanding mass arrests of gays.
This month the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said that it had uncovered evidence that the Bush administration has funded groups in Uganda that actively promote violence and discrimination against lesbians and gay men. (story) Among those receiving money, according to US government records, is Uganda Muslim Tabliqh, and the Makerere University Community Church, The church’s leader, Pastor Martin Ssempa, was a leading organizer of the anti-gay rally in Kampala.
Ssempa and his coalition, which includes Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, and Evangelicals, also have threatened the safety of Ugandan LGBT rights activists by posting their names, photos and addresses on a website Two weeks ago Uganda’s leading Muslim cleric told Museveni that gays be rounded up and marooned on an island in Lake Victoria until they die.(story)
Sheikh Ramathan Shaban Mubajje told reporters of his plan following a much publicized meeting with Museveni. "I asked President Museveni to get us an island on Lake Victoria and we take these homosexuals and they die out there," Mubajje told a news conference. "If they die there then we shall have no more homosexuals in the country."
In 2005 Museveni has signed into law a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, making the country the only one in the world to have a specific constitutional reference outlawing gay marriage. This year Museveni pushed constitutional changes to allow him a third term and won re-election in voting last year, though Uganda’s main opposition party charged many people were barred from the polls and some returns were falsified. At the White House Museveni only wanted to talk with reporters about trade and commerce.
"You need good infrastructure within a country like Uganda, as well as other African countries, so that you can produce goods at low cost," Museveni said. "Therefore you can be competitive in the expanded markets, and also in the regional markets."
2nd November 2007
Commonwealth meeting could promote homophobia
by PinkNews.co.uk staff writer
Members of Parliament in Uganda have urged the country’s government to speak out against gay rights at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) next month. One MP, demanding a "clamp down" against lesbian and gay Ugandans, said that the international event, to be held in the capital later this month, would be a good opportunity to "send a clear message that gays are not welcome in Uganda." Her Majesty the Queen normally attends the summit, which this year takes place between 23rd and 25th November in Kampala.
Ishaa Otto, speaking at a press conference earlier this week, claimed that the gay community is growing: "It’s unfortunate that the government is silent as if there is nothing happening. The society must rise up against homosexuality before it’s too late," he said, according to the Daily Monitor. The government should urgently table a new bill that criminalises homosexuality with punitive amendments that guarantee arrests to prevent the spread of gay practices."
Gay sex is punishable in Uganda by life imprisonment, under laws originally introduced by the British colonial administration in the nineteenth century.
CHOGMs are one of the most important events in the Commonwealth calendar and take place every two years in a different country. Almost one third of the world’s leaders are in attendance, and they come together to adopt common positions through consensus. Last month James Nsaba Buturo, Uganda’s Minister for Ethics and Integrity, told All Africa news agency that the government is committed to stopping LGBT people "trying to impose a strange, ungodly, unhealthy, unnatural, and immoral way of life on the rest of our society."
This week he told the Daily Monitor:
"As soon as Parliament resumes, we shall table a tough law. The government is doing everything possible to stamp out homosexuality." 2007 has seen the first gay rights press conference and the first anti-gay rally in Uganda. In August gay rights activists in spoke out about the prejudice LGBT people face in the country. 30 people gave a press conference drawing attention to the state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia they face every day. They called themselves the "homosexual children of God" and demanded that attacks on LGBT people stop. Some of the activists wore masks for fear of being identified, while others shocked journalists by outlining the brutality they had faced at the hands of police. Trans people are also targeted by police and regularly subject to abuse and harassment.
The following week churches in the country showed their disapproval with a demonstration organised by the Uganda Joint Christian Council. There has been rising tension in the country over gay and lesbian rights. Last year thirteen alleged lesbians were outed by the tabloid newspaper Red Pepper. There have been a series of government-backed attacks on the Ugandan lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the last few years, including an illegal police raid on the home of Victor Juliet Mukasa, in July 2005. In September Red Pepper ran another "expose" of prominent gay and lesbians, under the headline "HOMO TERROR! We Name and Shame Top Gays in the City."
They claimed to have "full names, workplaces, cars they drive and even where they stay." As well as describing 40 men it claims are gay, Red Pepper’s "expose" explains "how to spot a gay man," "terminologies used by gays" and "how the gay men shaft," a lurid description of gay sex. It claims that lubricants are "sent to the gays here from abroad."
2 November 2007
Uganda rebels storm capital
by staff writer
A delegation of Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) led by Chairman Martin Ojul are in the Ugandan capital Kampala to meet President Yoweri Museveni. Ahead of their visit, the LRA sent two of its prominent figures, Mike Anywar and Ray Achama, had first the first time in over 20 years, emerged from the bush to storm Kampala. The rebels’ mission includes consultations on the progress of the ongoing peace talks between the LRA and the government. The rebel-government talks will deal with the legal and criminal aspects of the two-decade long conflict. But the modalities of reconcialtion is considered as the heart of the talks. At a face to face meeting with LRA in the South Sudan capital Juba last year, the rebel leaders [Josephine Apire and Ayoo] refused to shake hand with Museveni.
The rebels said their Uganda mission also includes mobilising the people who have supported their group since its establishment 21 years ago. They expect the resumption of the Juba talks after the Uganda mission. A rift within the leadership of the LRA has been confirmed by the group’s former senior commander, Patrick Opiyo Makasi. The warlord, who was handed over to the Ugandan authorities, confirmed newspaper reports that the northern rebel group has been limping with squabbles for more than a year and a half, as bad blood between the LRA leader, Joseph Kony and his commanders, including his deputy, Vincent Otti, escalated.
A rift between Makasi and Kony forced the former out of the bush, he told journalists at Entebbe Airport. The deserted commander fled the rebel camp in Garamba on 2 October with his wife and walked for a week before he surrendered himself to the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Makasi was soon handed over to the Congolese government who had since then held him. And after a high level diplomacy, he was finally flown to Uganda. "I am overwhelmed by the welcome you have given me," he said upon arrival at the airport.
A spokesperson of the Amnesty Commission, Moses Draku, said since Makasi had given up rebellion, he would be allowed to sign amnesty papers. Earlier three commanders of the rebel group, who fell apart with Kony and Otti over the ongoing peace talks in the South Sudan capital of Juba, surrendered themselves to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement. The northern rebels had been accused of committing grave human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity since they first took arms against the government 21 years ago.
Cleric Warns Students On Gay Activities
9 November 2007
by Jane Nafula
Kampala – The Archbishop of Kampala Diocese, Dr Cyprian Lwanga has advised students not to indulge in homosexuality and lesbianism. Dr Lwanga said homosexuals and lesbians are not born but made and that all Ugandans should do what it takes to suppress such acts. "Every human organ which God created has a purpose" he said.
He added that there are health dangers associated with homosexual behaviour. Dr Lwanga said apart from developing complications in the reproductive system, people involved in these acts can easily contract diseases like HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. However, he said gay people should not be hated but instead helped to deviate from this form of sexuality.
Dr Lwanga was addressing students, parents and other guests during celebrations to mark the 40th anniversary of St Joseph’s Girls’ Secondary School, Nsambya on Saturday. The school was founded in 1967 by the Little Sisters of St Francis. Dr Lwanga also commissioned a laboratory, website and a school bus. "Some people think that AIDS has disappeared yet it is still with us . We know how it comes about lets fight it using the right methods," he said.
The Headmistress of the school, Sr Mary Agatha exhibited work done by her staff and other stakeholders who have seen the school progress and excel over the years. Sr Agatha also said several structures have been put in place at the school to meet the demands of the ever-increasing number of students craving for quality education. She added that the student population has grown tremendously since 1967.
20 November 2007
Uganda: Help Africa’s Gay Men; You’ll Save Their Women Too
Terrible, the news that came out this week as we marked World Aids Day. Things are very bad in Africa, and the poorer parts of the world. Some folks even declared that Africa, where about 70 per cent of the 36 million people worldwide infected with HIV/Aids live, is losing the war against the disease. Aids killed a record number of people in the third world and Eastern Europe this year, but Sub-Saharan Africa remains the worst affected region with about 3.2 million new infections and 2.3 million deaths. When one thinks of it, there is nothing new in those grim numbers. Nearly everything has been tried to deal with Aids in Africa, but it seems not to have the dramatic effect it should in order to reverse the carnage. And the reasons for the failure are, again, not new – bad and corrupt government, wars, lousy infrastructure, illiteracy, and retrogressive cultural practices. It seems that until we rise above concentrating on the conventional causes for the massive destruction by Aids in Africa, people will continue to drop off like flies. One place to begin is a study done by the global organisation, the Population Council. It has not been talked about much because it is about a taboo subject in Africa – homosexuality.
Ask the liberal don, Dr Sylvia Tamale of the Makerere University Faculty of Law. She has many ruffled feathers flying in the air presently after she argued, sensibly, that prostitution should be decriminalised. But the present storm she has caused with advocating a more enlightened attitude toward sex workers is nothing compared to what happened early this year when she said it was wrong to treat homosexuals like criminals. The priests, sheikhs, politicians, and other "guardians of the people" threw everything, including the kitchen sink, at Dr Tamale. That in itself was not surprising. The disturbing thing was that when the anti-gay camp really went into high and shrill gear, even many champions of freedom of expression were too scared to publicly defend Dr Tamale’s right to hold her opinions – even if they disagreed with them. Against that background, it is easy to appreciate why, perhaps, the Population Council study was not given attention around Africa. The study found that Senegal, while being the only country in Africa that has had better success than Uganda rolling back the march of Aids, has no meaningful programmes to deal with gays.
In Uganda too, there has never been a single Aids awareness message targeted at gay people. This is because most people consider it an "ungodly" sexual orientation. The Population Council study sought to find out the effect of this. It discovered that there are far more men in Senegal who are gay, than was publicly acknowledged. However, the killer finding was that very many men who are gay, are otherwise "happily" married to women. Because gay men meet discretely, their wives would not know it and are therefore content that they are "safe" – because we are conditioned to detect a man who is cheating with a woman, or a woman with man, not a man who is cheating on his wife with another man. Now, because gay men are a particularly high HIV-risk group, and they are totally ignored by Aids education campaigns, if we imagine that there are many such African men then the infections which we are blind to and doing nothing to prevent, are wiping out the gains made in the heterosexual sector. The point here is that if African societies and their governments were bolder and more open-minded about homosexuality, and invested resources in dealing with Aids among gays, then we would have made more progress.
I share the view that, at the end of the day, in sexual behaviour, just like in other social activity like drinking and eating, Africa is not much different than the West. So while we are hysterically hostile to gay people, the only thing that has achieved is to drive them underground. In reality, we could have nearly as many gay people in Africa, as in the West, who knows? As someone who is familiar with the Senegal study of gays and Aids told me: "The people who will benefit most from having Aids awareness for gay men in Africa, could well be their wives and girlfriends"
22nd November 2007
Echoes of Diana as Queen shakes hands with HIV+ man
by Tony Grew
Her Majesty the Queen visited a clinic for people with AIDS for the first time today. During a state visit to Uganda the monarch shook hands with Steven Wakodo, who is HIV+, echoing the famous handshake between Diana, Princess of Wales and an HIV+ person in April 1987. The Princess’s gesture helped overcome the fear of AIDS, demonstrating that the HIV virus cannot be transmitted by touch.
"The scourge of HIV infection and AIDS has touched the lives of too many Ugandan people," Her Majesty said in a speech to patients and staff. Centres such as this, which the government of Uganda has done so much to encourage, are essential in achieving our common aim of controlling this cruel disease."
The Queen is on her first visit to Uganda since 1954 and tomorrow she will open the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in the capital Kampala. The meeting, held every two years, is expected to be dominated by discussions about the situation in Pakistan. 53 heads of government, among them Prime Minister Gordon Brown, are in attendance. In a speech to the Ugandan parliament today the Queen stressed the importance of democracy, a clear reference to Pakistan. She also praised Uganda.
"The deliberations and decisions of this House, together with your respect for the rule of law, have had and will continue to have an essential bearing on the country’s success in addressing many serious challenges," she told MPs.
CHOGMs are one of the most important events in the Commonwealth calendar and take place every two years in a different country. Almost one third of the world’s leaders are in attendance, and they come together to adopt common positions through consensus. There were protests from gay rights activists at the decision to hold the three-day meeting in Uganda. Last month James Nsaba Buturo, the country’s Minister for Ethics and Integrity, told All Africa news agency that the government is committed to stopping LGBT people "trying to impose a strange, ungodly, unhealthy, unnatural, and immoral way of life on the rest of our society."
Members of Parliament in Uganda have urged the country’s government to speak out against gay rights at the CHOGM. One MP, demanding a "clamp down" against lesbian and gay Ugandans, said that the international event, to be held in the capital later this month, would be a good opportunity to "send a clear message that gays are not welcome in Uganda."
Ishaa Otto claimed that the gay community is growing: "It’s unfortunate that the government is silent as if there is nothing happening. The society must rise up against homosexuality before it’s too late," he said. The government should urgently table a new bill that criminalises homosexuality with punitive amendments that guarantee arrests to prevent the spread of gay practices."
Gay sex is punishable in Uganda by life imprisonment, under laws originally introduced by the British colonial administration in the nineteenth century. 2007 has seen the first gay rights press conference and the first anti-gay rally in Uganda. In August gay rights activists in spoke out about the prejudice LGBT people face in the country. 30 people gave a press conference drawing attention to the state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia they face every day. They called themselves the "homosexual children of God" and demanded that attacks on LGBT people stop.
Some of the activists wore masks for fear of being identified, while others shocked journalists by outlining the brutality they had faced at the hands of police. Trans people are also targeted by police and regularly subject to abuse and harassment. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall are also on a state visit to Uganda for the CHOGM.
22 November 2007
Respect Gay Rights – People’s Forum
by Geresom Musamali and Moses Mulondo, Kampala
New Vision (Kampala) – The Commonwealth People’s Forum has proposed that the rights of minorities, including gays and lesbians, be recognised. In the memorandum issued yesterday at the end of the five-day event held at Hotel Africana in Kampala, the members also advocated for the recognition of rights of persons with disabilities and refugees. Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda and many African countries.
The chairman of the Peoples’ Forum, Warren Nyamugasira, handed the memorandum to Glenda Morean, the High Commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago to the UK, for submission to the Commonwealth summit (CHOGM). Queen Elizabeth II will open the meeting at the Serena Hotel today. The next CHOGM will take place at the Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago.
On the LRA war, the forum asked the CHOGM to support the implementation of the ceasefire and peace agreement between the Government and the rebels. They urged the Commonwealth to suspend Pakistan for violating democratic principles enshrined in the Harare Declaration. The 53-nation body recently threatened to suspend Pakistan if President Pervez Musharraf does not restore the country’s constitution and lift other emergency measures by November 22. But Musharaf’s government rejected the demands.
"Pakistan firmly rejects the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group announcement and demands that are based on lack of realism and absence of understanding," the Pakistani foreign ministry said in a statement last week. The People’s Forum delegates said: "Noting the violations of the Harare principles in Pakistan, we call on the Commonwealth to act quickly to restore the constitution, separate the two offices held by the president and restore an independent judiciary." On Zimbabwe, the forum asked the Commonwealth to commit resources to planning and developing the country, protecting and promoting the political values of the Commonwealth.
The delegates also urged the Commonwealth to mount pressure on the ruling military regime in Fiji to end human rights abuses and return to democratic governance by 2009. Fiji was recently suspended from the Commonwealth over violations of democratic values. The memorandum urged the Commonwealth to create an environment that fosters unity, ensures dialogue between different people and addresses conflict, social exclusion and marginalisation. The delegates advised the summit to ensure transparency and participation of all stakeholders in trade and investment at multilateral, regional and bilateral levels.
23 November 2007
Gay, Clergy Clash At People’s Space
by Josephine Maseruka, Kampala
New Vision (Kampala) – People advocating for the rights of homosexuals and those against the practice are using the People’s Space at Hotel Africana in Kampala to air out their views. Drama ensued on Thursday when the Catholic and Anglican clergymen, who were condemning gays, sat next to pro-gay people who were watching a film on homosexuality. The film, which attracted several youth, showcased the various countries which have embraced gays, particularly Egypt. As homosexuals and lesbians gave testimonies on how they were attracted to each other in the movie, the clergy were addressing a press conference to express their disappointment at Commonwealth member-states that were advocating for gay rights.
Whereas the youth mischievously cheered at the gays’ testimonies in the film, the clergy were defending the Church’s stand on what they referred to as ‘evil and unnatural behaviour.’ The Assistant Bishop of Kampala Diocese, Zac Niringiye, said: "As Church leaders, we want to speak out very clearly what we believe in from the perspectives of culture and religion. We love homosexuals as we love thieves and any person who is not honourable. But promoting the gays’ agenda is evil and it is counter to God’s design to humanity, to productivity and it is unnatural."
The Rev. Fr. Silvester Arinaitwe, the deputy executive secretary for the finance and administration for the Uganda Joint Christian Council, said homosexuality is illegal in Uganda. The Rev. Canon Aaron Mwesigye, the Provincial Secretary of the Church of Uganda, told journalists that they were aware that many people were at the People’s Space and the Commonwealth People’s Forum to lobby for gay recognition. "We hate the evil practice. Imagine section 96 of a report from the People’s Forum pleads to the Commonwealth to include issues of gays in the people’s rights."
Mwesigye noted that the inclusion of gays in the same category with people with disabilities and refugees "is evil and breaks up the society." He said churches would continue preaching the gospel and involve the youth in activities that would protect them from evil practices.
23rd November, 2007
Buturo dismisses people’s forum advice on gay rights
by Lydia Namubiru
Ethics minister James Nsaba Buturo has dismissed the recommendations of the Commonwealth People’s Forum on gay and lesbian rights. In the statement, that has 119 recommendations to the heads of states and governments, the forum called on the Commonwealth to “include issues concerning minority rights, such as the rights of the gay people.” Buturo said the recommendation will not be adopted. He accused the organisers of the forum of sinister intentions. “There has been concern about the motives of the organisers of this people’s forum,” he said. “Homosexuality has no room in this country.”
According to the chairperson of the Commonwealth People’s Forum steering committee, Warren nyamugasira, the recommendations were reached following national consultations in the member countries. “In Uganda, consultations were done in five regions. From all the (international) consultations, a draft statement emerged and was enriched by the Forum,” he said.
Nyamugasira added that the homosexual issue was very contentious. “Many Ugandans were not happy that it was included but it is an important issue for countries like Canada and South Africa. CHOGM is a Commonwealth not ugandan forum,” he said. He added that the recommendations may or may not be adopted by the heads of state, but they should keep them in mind when legislating. “They should not expire with the Kampala summit.”
The gay community held an awareness campaign and showed films at the People’s Space near Hotel Africana. They also launched a news-letter and brochures in english and Luganda entitled, Break the Chains and Menya Enjjegere.
23 November 2007
Gays, Bishops Clash At Chogm
by Agness Nandutu, Kampala
The Monitor (Kampala) – Just as Commonwealth leaders prepared to take on the crisis in Pakistan, another one seemed to have pentrated the club from the Anglican communion- the issue of gays. Bishops of the Province of the Church of Uganda and gay activists clashed at the Commonwealth People’s Space at Hotel Africana yesteraday when gays overheard bishops telling journalists that Commonwealth countries should not promote their activities. The Commonwealth People’s Space is part of the on going Chogm activities where people from all walks of life and the public freely enter and express their interests and interact among themselves. While Bishops were addressing a press conference against gays at the People’s Space, the gay activists were also watching a film that was highlighting their feelings about society.
It all started when the gay activists overheard Assistant Bishop of Kampala Church of Uganda Diocese, Zac Niringiye, telling journalists that Commonwealth countries should not make laws that give gay rights to engage in lesbianism and homosexuality. Mr John William Foster, a gay from Canada, did not take the comments lightly. He asked Bishop Niringiye why he did not want gays to have rights in their own countries. "How do you dare say that? In my own Country, I have the right to exist and my church allows me to marry a fellow man. Can you stop it," Mr Foster shouted as other visitors watched.
Bishop Niringiye responded, "It depends on the values of your church. In Uganda, homosexuality is an evil." Other gays could not let the Bishop explain. They came forward in one chorus pointing fingers towards Bishop Niringiye telling him, "We are human beings like you." Sensing danger, others bishops pulled away their colleague and joined other people to watch the documentary. That seemed to appease the gays. "Now you are free [to watch],"they said. "But if you continue speaking against us, we shall pull you out." The bishops remained calm and continued watching.
Bishop Niringiye later told journalists that gays were free to express their interests in the Chogm People’s Space. "It’s not about silencing them,"he said. But we should put in place legislation that does not allow the practice to be promoted." At a press conference the bishops called upon Commonwealth countries not to condone homosexuality saying it’s a human wrong and never a right. "The Commonwealth should not legislate for human wrongs. Homosexuality is an evil, which should never be discussed during Chogm. In Chogm meetings, we should advocate for them to change because the act is unnatural," Bishop Niringiye said.
The issue of rights of gays and lesbians was one of the recommendations in the Civil Society Statement to the Commonwealth Heads of State Meeting. Bishop Niringire said, "As a church, we are telling Commonwealth heads of governments to formulate value systems to solve the question of lesbianism and homosexuality being a human right." The Bishops also called upon the Commonwealth to put in place sanctions that would hold heads of governments accountable if they do not implement Chogm recommendations. They also asked the Commonwealth to tackle issues of good governance and corruption. "We have been misgoverned. We do not lack resources but the question of corruption has not been adequately dealt with in the Commonwealth countries," said Rev Canon Aaron Mwesigye, the provincial secretary Church of Uganda. Mwesigye also said it was wrong approach to suspend Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe from Commonwealth.
"Suspending Zimbabwe is wrong. They would have Mugabe to come and attend Chogm so that he is held accountable. Suspending him does not solve the crisis," he said. Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth in 2004.
November 25, 2007
Anti-gay protests at C’wealth
Heads of state challenged to support climate change debate Scores of anti-gay activists protested in Kampala yesterday minutes after Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II opened the summit of Commonwealth heads of state. Demonstrators accused western countries of helping to spread the practice on the African continent. The biennial conference, which is being attended by 48 heads of state and government representatives from the 53-nation club of countries formerly under British rule, will examine the issues of governance, human rights, environment and development. The Ugandan government allowed officially demonstrations to be held in two places near the city centre. Several groups including the opposition and anti-gay pressure groups have taken part in the peaceful protests.
"Homosexuality is growing in Uganda and Africa in general. Some of our people are thriving on funding from gay activists from western nations," said one organiser of the rally, Pentecostal Pastor Solomon Male. Led by religious leaders, university undergraduates in red gowns and married women held aloft placards reading: "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman. Homosexuals need the truth to set them free." The lesbian and gay population in Uganda is not known, but the numbers are believed to be increasing. However, many fear that if they "come out" they will be attacked.
"We are living in a global village as Commonwealth member states. Developed countries in the Commonwealth legalised homosexuality and influenced the poor states," Interfaith Rainbow Coalition Against Homosexuality in Uganda which consists of religious groups in the country said. "We are telling the queen that by embracing homosexuality, we shall not have kings and queens," it added. Inside the conference, Commonwealth heads of state were asked to send a strong message of support to next month?s international summit on climate change in Bali, the group’s chairperson said yesterday.
"There is little doubt that in order to keep the adaptation challenge in manageable bounds we must work decisively towards the aim of reducing greeenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent below 1990 levels, and this to be reached by 2050," said Lawrence Gonzi, outgoing chairperson and Maltese prime minister. The challenge of climate change not only requires a united front but an unprecedented level of co-operation and firm action," said Gonzi at the summit’s opening ceremony in the Ugandan capital. He added: "We must send a strong message of support to the forthcoming climate change conference in Bali."
The loose federation of mostly former British colonies includes some of the world?s major polluters such as Australia. Also present are those in the front line of climate change?s effects such as Kiribati, a Pacific island group in acute danger of being washed away by rising sea levels.
November 25, 2007
For Release to Press
Ugandan Homosexuals Refused Space to Speak at CHOGM Today
Today East African homosexuals came in peace to CHOGM to speak and were met by violent police officers. Ugandan and Kenyan lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) speakers scheduled to give their addresses at the CHOGM Speaker’s Corner in Uganda today left after facing violence from the police and waiting for seven hours to be givenentrance to the People’s Space. The People’s Space was designed “to provide opportunities to share in the diversity and richness of the Commonwealth people” and was specifically designated as a space open to all people. It was intended to give people “renewed energy to facilitate social changewith a clear sense of building the future together.” The discrimination and violence carried out by police at the People’s Space today is an affront to basic human rights in Uganda.
Amakula, a non-LGBT film organisation in Kampala also faced discrimination for showing a film that discussed homosexuality. Amakula showcases African cinema, “bringing filmmakers together to help create an inspiring and conducive environment for cinema.” The organisation is known for its celebration of African talent, professionalism, human diversity, and creativity. After hosting an LGBT-themed film yesterday at CHOGM that sparked hot debate across the nation, two members of Amakula were thrown out of the People’s Space today. A non-LGBT related percussion group scheduled to perform at CHOGM has been cancelled because its performance was arranged by Amakula. Discrimination against a person because of any God-given attribute, such as sex, race, or sexual orientation, is both against the law in Uganda and a disgrace to humanity. It is love, not hatred that God commands.
The words of declaration stating this message that were prepared so diligently by the LGBT Ugandan and Kenyan representatives were not able to be heard. Instead, police threw them out of the People’s Space and refused to allow them to enter again. The Ugandan police displayed embarrassingly inhuman and unprofessional behaviour, attacking the LGBT speakers and breaking sticks from trees in preparation for greater harm to the speakers. The LGBT speakers entered the People’s Space to prepare for the addresses they were scheduled to give according to the programme. Police began forcibly removing them. Victor Juliet Mukasa, a Ugandan LGBT Human Rights Defender stood her ground, declaring, “I am not moving a single step from this place.” The police continued their aggressive affront.
“They threw me down. Those who came back to help me from the ground faced it tough. One person was caned for doing so.” Both homosexuals and straight Ugandans are increasingly becoming fed up with the violence and discrimination being directed toward people of different sexual orientations. Heterosexual Ugandans have begun to speak out against such police brutality, stating that they will not tolerate any kind of violence against another human being, regardless of their sexual orientation. The LGBT speakers remained standing outside the gate in quiet protest, waiting to be allowed back in to deliver their speeches. They were there for a total of seven hours. What was supposed to be one of the greatest fora for free speech has become a disappointment and an embarrassing case of discrimination for Uganda.
For more information contact:
Julian Pepe, Co-Chairperson of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG): +256 312 294 859 or email@example.com
Victor Juliet Mukasa, Ugandan LGBT Human Rights Defender: +256 753 116 034 or julie.mukasa@ gmail.com
Alice, Amakula: firstname.lastname@example.org
Unacceptable police brutality towards African LGBT people during Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting in Uganda
We are the Pan Africa ILGA, a body representing 41 movements of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders and Intersexual people in Africa. We kindly address you today to express our deep concern about the Ugandan police brutality towards LGBTI people during the CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting) 2007. On the 23rd of November 2003, Ugandan and Kenyan Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT) speakers were schedule to give their address at the CHOGM speakers Conner, the People’s Space, a space supposed to be the sanctuary of the freedom and diversity for ALL Commonwealth people. This people were forced violently by the police to leave the place and kept outside without having the opportunity to exercise their rights as Commonwealth citizens.
The discrimination and violence carried out by police at the People’s Space is an affront to basic human rights in Uganda.
This behavior has been supported by the Ugandan State, disrespecting all the treaties on Human Rights they have signed. These LGBTI people have the same rights as any other human being. We are outraged not only by police violence but also by the silence of the meeting organizers. Now we ask, where is the equality and respect of Human Rights that every Commonwealth citizen is entitled?
Commonwealth has shamed us all.
Linda Baumann, Namibia – Co-Chair of Pan Africa ILGA
Danilo da Silva , Mozambique – Co-Chair of Pan Africa ILGA
26th December, 2007
We must resist gays – bishop
by Daniel Edyegu
The Government should not yield to pressure and legalise homosexuality and lesbianism, the Bishop of Bukedi Diocese, the Rt. Rev. Nicodemus Okille, has appealed. The bishop, who was delivering his Christmas sermon at St. Peter’s Church of Uganda Tororo on Tuesday, said the acts violate both the biblical teachings on marriage and African culture. Okille criticised the advocates of gay rights, saying they had no place in the Kingdom of God.
“These are acts to question the ordinances of God. There’s nothing like ‘intellectualising’ sin; sin is sin. How do you imagine a woman sharing the same bed with a woman or a man with a fellow man?” he asked. According to the Penal Code Act, homosexuality is illegal and carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Under their umbrella body, Sexual Minorities Uganda, gay activists recently addressed an unprecedented news conference to speak out against alleged discrimination and harassment from the Police. They want a law allowing them to practice their sexual orientation more freely.
“It’s terrible. As the church, we need to resist practices that are not in line with the Christian doctrines,” Okille said. The bishop cautioned married couples against indulging in adultery. saying it is the main cause of divorce.