Gay Uganda News & Reports 2002-2006

Also see:
Behind the Mask LGBT African website
S.M.U.G. Uganda’s Gay Lesbian Alliance
Uganda Blogspot
Gay Kampala personals

1 An ignorant homophobic article about the fledgling gay organization GALA 8/02

2 Uganda pan-africanists rap gay sympathizers 7/03

3 Reject Homosexuals and Lesbians, Uganda Anglican Church Urges 8/03

4 New political party for gay Ugandans? 10/03

5 ‘My life as a gay Ugandan Christian’ 10/03

6 Americans Cut Funds to Uganda Churches 11/03

7 Bishop Senyonjo Backs Gay Clergy 11/03

8 Help Africa’s Gay Men; You’ll Save Their Women Too 12/03

9 Human Rights Watch attacks Uganda over gay ban 7/05

10 Human Rights Activists Brutalised By Police and local government official 7/05

10a World fails to save Africa’s AIDS orphans 7/06

11 New anti-gay witch-hunt 8/06

11a Straight and Narrow 9/08

12 Ugandan newspaper ‘gay’ name list condemned 9/06

12a1 Ugandan tabloid outs alleged lesbians9/06

12a AIDS In Africa: AIDS Village Clinics 9/06

12b Activist: "Uganda is the new Zimbabwe" 9/06

13 African Female Scholars Share Virtual Lifeline 12/06

New Vision (Kampala), Kampala, Uganda ( ) )

August 30, 2002

Counselors Disregard Inborn Homosexuality

by Denis Jjuuko
About four weeks ago, my editor assigned me to do an interview with a homosexual. I visited some NGOs and inquired if they had any of their contacts, but all in vain. I contacted a few female friends, but they too were not helpful.

Eventually, I was directed to a popular restaurant in town. This restaurant is run by a white homosexual, whom we shall refer to as Mr. A. He promotes homosexuality in Uganda. He works with another white homosexual who comes to Uganda once every three months to assess Mr. A’s work. A lot of money is involved. Mr. A, who is about 57 years and wears mostly short sleeved shirts and demin jeans, recruits young boys whom he promises a lot of money and juicy jobs. At the job interviews, one is asked whether they have a girlfriend or not. Those who show no interest in women or men are given these jobs straight away

. Heterosexuals are also employed, but not highly paid. For them, promotion to managerial levels is a myth. After careful scrutiny, they are turned into homosexuals. The homosexuals without permanent partners come here and ‘buy’ these workers when they are off duty.

You may as well call it prostitution. In order to identify these ‘buyers’, one has to be very keen. However, at times they go overboard and one can easily notice something unusual. Mr. A has successfully turned two brothers into homosexuals. He has since monopolised them as his own sexual partners. He paid their tuition fees up to the university. He looks after their family well. Some family members take him as a Good Samaritan, while others are resigned to the situation. These two brothers are now managers at this plush restaurant. They live with Mr. A at his swanky Muyenga residence. This eatery is for the more sophisticated, fashionable and rich homosexuals.

However, it was imposible to get information from them. I was getting flabbergasted and very frustrated. I was about to give up when someone gave me two e-mail addresses of some associations. Still I didn’t believe him. Nevertheless, i gave it a shot. I received a quick response from They promised to link me up with a lesbian. I was thrilled that my assignment was making headway.

Two days later, I received a phone call and a male voice from the other end asked me if it was okay to meet his clique over the weekend. We agreed to meet on Saturday August 24, 2002 at exactly 2:00pm. We were to meet at the poolside bar in Grand Imperial Hotel. Shortly before our agreed time, my new friend, Ssebudde Lule then called and said that we should meet at the Rhino Pub in the Sheraton Hotel. Lule told me that I would only meet him, if I was alone and without a camera. I agreed since we were meeting in a public place.

I described to him how I was dressed and he came up to meet me as I walked in. I thought that Lule was from Gay Uganda. He wasn’t. He was from the other group that didn’t reply my e-mail: He told me that he is the chairman of GALA Uganda. Peter Iga Lubega, a member of his group, accompanied him.

GALA stands for Gay and Lesbian Alliance of Uganda. The two were dressed in designer polo shirts and had trendy baseball caps. To be honest, they are attractive men. They didn’t wear any jewelry normally associated with homosexuals. No pierced ears. They were just like other ordinary guys in town. I was nervous and could not speak coherently. I eased up after a moment and over a drink and some eats, we started our cordial emotion-free interview.

"What does your alliance exactly do?" I ask. Lule, 30, gives me a brochure of his alliance. It has an e-mail and postal address number, 23717 Kampala written on it. "We are Ugandan gays and lesbians. After a long time of discrimination, hatred and oppression, on May 17, last year, we decided to form an association to give our community a voice," he explains. Lule adds that they were 18 members but the number has since increased into what he calls a network. "Our association does not seek to increase the numbers of homosexuals in this country or anywhere else. We want to unite as members not to convert people. We look for those who are already homosexuals and under-18s are not part of my organisation," he hastens to add.

"Then, where do you get your facilitation?" I ask. "I hold a higher diploma in business studies. I’m involved in private business. I am an importer and exporter of general merchandise. I get some good money," he answers. Lule says that his alliance has already sent letters to the Uganda Human Rights Commission and proposals to the Constitution Review Commission.

The handsome Lule says that he was born a gay but went into active homosexuality 10 years ago. He informs me that he has not agreed to publish his picture because it may jeopardise his campaign. "In South Africa, people never knew that Nelson Mandela would one day be their leader. One day we will be recognised. Maybe, I won’t be around but I have made the ground," he concludes with a glint of hope in his eyes.

However, Ruth Ssenyonyi, a professional counsellor disagrees that anyone can be born a homosexual or lesbian. "The sexual desires are there but it’s not the right way. Even the Bible condemns it," she argues. She says that homosexuality is a result of pornography.

Dr Vick Owens of the Institute of Physcology at Makerere University says that it is possible for one to change into a heterosexual through physcotherapy. "If you are willing to change then it’s possible," she says.

Dr Jim Lwanga and Guston Byamugisha argue that there is no evidence that a person can be born with homosexual tendencies. "Such people need urgent counselling," they advise.

Uganda pan-africanists rap gay sympathizers

July 20, 2003

Fortunate Ahimbisibwe reported for New Vision, February 25, 2003, that Pan-Africanists have attacked sympathisers of homosexuality. According to the report they were meeting at their head offices in Kamwokya to discuss the issue of ‘homosexuality as a humanity right’. At the meeting Nathan Byamukama from the Uganda Human Rights Commission said homosexuality is not yet a human right in Uganda and it is therefore illegal.

However his comments can be read as a call to homosexuals to mobilise around their rights. “If homosexuals want their full rights, let them mobilise and demand for them. Before they do that, it will still be regarded illegal according to the governing laws of the country,” he said. David Mafabi, political director of the Global Pan-African Movement, said debates on homosexuality had to be left to the whites who are believed to have started it. “Whereas Dr. Sylvia Tamale has the right to express herself on homosexuality, the idea that it should be a human right should not even be debated because it is unthinkable,” he said.

Sylvia Tamale, a Makerere University lecturer, recently said homosexuality should be regarded a human right. A representative from Gay and Lesbian Alliance of Uganda, commenting on the report recently said, "Nathan Byamukama’s comment that, homosexuality is not yet a Human Right in Uganda followed by David Mafabi stating that debates on homosexuality should be left to the whites who are believed to have started it, shows that these two ignorant men seem to lack the idea that homosexuality has transcended all cultures through out history.

Furthermore, these statements try to affirm that LGBT persons in Uganda have alienable rights. Which is contrary to article 20 of the Uganda Constitution which states that, "fundamental rights and freedoms are inalienable."

New Vision, Kampala, Uganda

August 16, 2003

Reject Homosexuals and Lesbians, Uganda Anglican Church Urges

Kampala – The Church of Uganda has asked Ugandans to condemn homosexuality and lesbianism, which are slowly taking root in the country, reports Herbert Ssempogo. The COU provincial communications secretary, the Rev. Dr. Jackson Turyagenda, said in an interview on Tuesday that the practices were not part of Uganda’s culture. "The society would be liberated from these evils if we had a wide campaign from the community against them," Turyagenda said.

He was reacting to reports of pledge of support from the gay community in USA to their Ugandan Anglican counterparts. Integrity USA, an American organisation of homosexuals, promised to assist Integrity Uganda (IU), a local gay chapter, "to expand to other parts of the country where interest has been shown." Integrity USA also promised to give assistance to IU to organise a "Pan-African conference of lesbian and gay Anglicans prior to the Lambeth conference in 2008."

Turyagenda said homosexuality and lesbianism were foreign practices, which could not be accommodated in all Anglican circles. "It would be a case for the Government if they were just ordinary Ugandan citizens. We can’t keep quiet if it is our own faith," Turyagenda said. He said it was the duty of the Church to preach to the people and rid them of sin. The Anglican Church, the world over, has lately been embroiled in wrangles since New Hampshire Diocese in the USA elected the Rev. Gene Robinson who is gay. UK

6 October 2003

New political party for gay Ugandans?

Gay men and lesbians in Uganda say they will form a political party if the government continues to refuse to listen to their calls for equal rights.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance of Uganda says the government persistently ignores that they exist and unless they are accepted, they will challenge the system directly. Local press reports suggest that the group is angry at recent proposals to the Constitutional Review Commission, which has refused to decriminalise homosexuality. "We believe criminalising us because of our nature is unfair and [we] will not support any political organisation which doesn’t endorse our rights," the group says in a letter to the minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.

"If you fail to honour our request, we will be forced to form our political party to represent our interests." However, it is unlikely that the group will get far in their complaints, as Uganda is not known for its liberal attitudes. The country’s Church recently cut ties with the US branch of Anglicism, following the appointment of openly gay Gene Robinson as bishop. Additionally, the minister Ms Janat Mukwaya has warned the group not to expect any change. "I would advise them to read the Constitution. I don’t think gays have a right in our Constitution," she told the local media.

BBC News

October 27, 2003

‘My life as a gay Ugandan Christian’

By Smyth Harper, BBC News Online, Manchester
Christopher Senteza is a committed Christian who has been with his partner for six years. He teaches English and religious studies at a school in Uganda, close to where he lives in the capital, Kampala. The 33-year-old is a pillar of the community, and would dearly love to be ordained into the Anglican church. But Christopher is also gay, something the church in Uganda frowns upon and the state can throw you in prison for. Christopher realised he was gay when he was a teenager, and confided in his uncle, who is also gay. He says his family has been his rock, because of their loving care. "My family has been very supportive – which has been very powerful for me," he says.

But he adds some families are not so helpful. As part of his work for Integrity Uganda, a Christian group which offers support for gays and lesbians, he recalls a visit with a friend to a gay teenager’s mother he was trying to help. "We went and visited the son and his mother decided to chase us from the house. She accused us of trying to preach homosexuality to him – which, of course, we were not trying to do. We were trying to help him."

Rural rejection, urban acceptance
He says Ugandan society is split on the issue of homosexuality between those in cities and towns and those in rural areas. "The rural population is very against homosexuality, but urban people tend to be more accepting." There is a perception amongst many Africans that homosexuality is something that was brought with European colonialism. There is no word in Christopher’s native tongue – Lugandan – for homosexuality. "They say it is a Western word, but there were many cases of it documented in Uganda before the white man came to Africa."

He hesitates about speaking of President Museveni – who has well publicised hatred of gays and lesbians – saying he has never spoken to the president so it would not be right for him to speak of what he thinks. In 1999 the president launched a fierce attack on homosexuality and said gays should be sent to jail. "I know of two men who were jailed for being gay," Christopher says, starkly.

He added himself and his partner Francis are accepted in their community, but agrees more needs to be done to get full acceptance. Uganda is a country which has introduced democratic reforms and has improved its human rights record since Yoweri Museveni became president in 1986. Christopher believes a change in society and a change in gay action is needed. "Gays are a little bit shy and afraid to come out. Both members of the gay community and society itself have their part to play to improve things for gays and lesbians. "Society needs to have an appreciation of what we can offer to benefit everyone."

The church, too, takes a dim view of homosexuality. Christopher would dearly love to become an Anglican minister, but has been rejected, despite his impeccable credentials. "I wasn’t given the reason why I was rejected, but I believe it was because I am a homosexual." But he also believes things are changing within society, and within the church. "They must move towards acceptance."

Visa problem
Christopher was in Manchester for the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement conference, where he delivered an address titled "Lesbian and Gay Identity in Uganda: a Christian Vision for my Country". He also attended a controversial gay Christian service which had been banned from Manchester cathedral. But he almost didn’t make it because the UK immigration service questioned his motives for coming to the country and was refused a visitor’s visa. He had to go to MP Ben Bradshaw who then had to take the issue to a ministerial level before he was granted a visa.

He arrived in London one day before the conference was due to begin. The immigration service need not worry – he will be heading back at the end of this week, where he will continue his work. "Given time, Uganda will have to move towards acceptance," he said.

New Vision,Kampala, Uganda ( ) )

November 7, 2003

Americans Cut Funds to Uganda Churches

by Richard Komakech And Geoffrey Ntabaazi, Kampala
Americans are cutting funding to local churches after Anglicans rejected newly-consecrated gay bishop Gene Robinson. Out-going Church of Uganda Archbishop Mpalanyi Nkoyooyo yesterday said he had received warnings from American church aid organisations and charities about Ugandan opposition to the bishop. Many African, Asian and Latin American countries rejected the consecration of the first openly gay clergy in the Anglican communion as Bishop of North Hemisphere in the United States.

They said it violated church ethics and biblical teachings in which the Anglican Communion was rooted. Nkoyooyo, in a sermon during a farewell service for him in Kazo, north of Kampala, urged Anglicans to strongly stand against pro-west cultures that threatened to destroy African culture. He urged Anglicans worldwide to work harder and provide funding for their church activities and continue spreading the faith. "The West introduced us to the faith but it seems they have run out of ideas on which way to go. "They are confused about the Bible and want to destroy the church," he said. He added, "These people have been giving us money and there is some that was about to come, but the gay issue is now riding at the centre of their favours, which we shall not accept."

The Monitor, Kampala, Uganda

November 12, 2003

Bishop Senyonjo Backs Gay Clergy

by Simon Kasyate Kampala
A retired bishop of the Church of Uganda has broken ranks with his institution and defended the consecration of the first ever gay bishop. Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, who is heterosexual but well known for his pro-gay rights stand, says he has no problem with the consecration of the Rev. V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, as bishop of New Hampshire. "I do support it because I believe the province of the Episcopal Church of New Hampshire have a right to make such a choice," Senyonjo said on Monday night while appearing on 93.3 Monitor FM’s Andrew Mwenda Live talk show. In a discussion peppered with references to the scriptures, Senyonjo said opponents of homosexuality should not refer to the Bible selectively.

The retired bishop of West Buganda diocese also calmed fears that the division over homosexuality between conservative and more liberal Anglicans is likely to split the church. "I think it will not tear the church apart; I believe good counsel will prevail," he said. Senyonjo said Jesus came to preach good news to the poor, release the captives and soothe the oppressed. "The homosexuals as I see are part of the oppressed [and] marginalised people because they are what they are not by their choice but by orientation and I don’t see why you can throw out people and say they can’t have access to God because they are gay," he said.

However, Senyonjo’s debate opponent, the Rev. Prof. Steven Noll, the vice chancellor of Uganda Christian University Mukono, was more than a Doubting Thomas. Noll said: "Things maybe changing in New Hampshire, but I would like to point out that not only does the Anglican Communion strongly oppose this by a vast majority, the Roman Catholic church opposes it, the Orthodox church opposes it, Judaism opposes it, Islam opposes it. "Following the teaching of scripture and the tradition of the church, this is unacceptable behavior."

The Monitor,
Kampala, Uganda

December 3, 2003

Help Africa’s Gay Men; You’ll Save Their Women Too

by Charles Onyango-Obbo Kampala
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 discreetly, 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".

Behind the Mask

July 26, 2005

Human Rights Watch attacks Uganda over gay ban

by Grace Matsiko, Kampala
The Human Rights Watch (HRW), a global human rights body has attacked Uganda for proposing a law banning same sex marriage saying it is deepening repression.

" In voting for a constitutional amendment to criminalise marriage between persons of the same sex, Uganda’s Parliament has struck a gratuitous blow for prejudice and against basic human rights", the HRW said in a statement posted on its website on Thursday. Uganda already imposes draconian prison sentences on people who engage in homosexual conduct," Mr Scott Long, the director of the Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights programmes at HRW said.

About a fortnight ago, the Parliament approved a proposed constitutional amendment stating that "marriage is lawful only if entered into between a man and a woman," and that "it is unlawful for same-sex couples to marry." " New criminal penalties against people who dare to marry can only have one purpose: to codify prejudice against same-sex couples," Long said.

Same-sex sexual relations are criminalised in Uganda under a sodomy law.

The law was strengthened in 1990. Section 140 of the Penal Code (PC) criminalises "carnal knowledge against the order of nature" with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Section 141 of the PC 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 February, the Media Council, a state media monitoring body banned a staging of the play, "The Vagina Monologues" by the U.S.A author, Ms Eve Ensler, because it "promotes illegal acts of unnatural sexual acts, homosexuality and prostitution." Basic freedoms of expression, association and respect for private life are at stake in Uganda," said Long. " Members of Parliament should reject this amendment and the campaign to stigmatise and silence people because of their sexual orientation," Long said. HRW urged that Uganda was a party to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee, which recognises that discrimination based on sexual orientation is barred by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

" The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has held that arrests for consensual homosexual conduct are by definition human rights violations," the statement said. In March, an HRW report on ‘Abstinence-until-marriage" HIV prevention programmes in Uganda’ said the programme was jeopardising Uganda’s fight against Aids by denying the youth information about other methods of HIV prevention.

Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG)

Human Rights Activists Brutalised By Police and local government official

July 27, 2005

Uganda – On July 20th, an LC1 Chairman (local government official) and another man forcibly entered the home of J.M. at Kireka, who is a human rights activist and chairperson of SMUG (Sexual Minorities Uganda). They proceeded to search her home without a warrant and to mishandle her friend, a visiting Kenyan activist who they found at the home.

The two men confiscated items from her house and detained the Kenyan activist, treating her in a degrading and humiliating way. She was taken to the police where she was even made to undress.
V.M. explains, “The police knew this gentleman did not have a police warrant. But they did not respect us and that is why they went ahead. Yet they knew she was unlawfully arrested. Whatever they had they knew was unlawfully obtained. The Ugandan police broke its own laws, the laws that it was supposed to keep.”

Most importantly, “They did not see us as human beings so they did not see the need to go through the normal procedures for searching houses and dealing with people.

Because of what they suspected to be our sexual orientation they treated us very badly. That is not the normal procedure.” How come Ugandan activists who are, for example, challenging the death sentence are not harassed in this manner?
V.M. continues, “Even at the police station we were treated very badly. For them it was like a comedy and we felt humiliated because we are not kids. This is not how a human should be treated.”

The action of these officials violated Articles 24 and 27 of the Constitution which prohibit inhuman and degrading treatment, guarantee the right to privacy, and prohibit unlawful searches, respectively. Most importantly, the police action violated J.M.’s basic civil right under Article 29 to freedom of thought, conscience and association and the right to advocate for what she believes in.

Uganda is bound to respect the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights which protects against all forms of discrimination.

SMUG condemns this state-sanctioned police harassment and calls upon all organizations invested in the well-being of all Ugandans to put pressure on the government to respect its own laws respecting human dignity. A strong alliance of Ugandan and international health and human rights organizations have been voicing their commitment to ensure the rights of individuals regardless of their sexual orientation.


July 19, 2006

World fails to save Africa’s AIDS orphans–Africa’s HIV infected children also ignored

by Christiane Amanpour, CNN
Editor’s note: CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour traveled to Kenya as part of a special documentary, "Where Have All the Parents Gone?," which looks at the millions of AIDS orphans now living on their own.

Isiola, Kenya (CNN) – AIDS invaded our consciousness 25 years ago. A whole generation around the world has now grown up knowing only a world with AIDS. We have watched the efforts to find a vaccine, to find drugs to control the disease, to educate people about preventive measures, and to end the stigma of AIDS. There have been many successes in helping adults with the disease, but when it comes to the children, the world has failed dismally. Millions and millions of AIDS orphans are the devastating legacy of this epidemic. Africans suffer the most.(View images of those most vulnerable) According to the United Nations, there are 12 million AIDS orphans in sub-Saharan Africa alone, and in four short years that number will skyrocket to 18.4 million. That means AIDS orphans will make up 15 to 20 percent of the population in some African countries.

Traveling around the region, we met young children heading entire households, after losing one or both parents. Because the adults are missing, entire economies are collapsing. There’s no one left to plant crops, tend livestock or look after the young. And AIDS is killing the children as well. According to the United Nations, HIV infection is more aggressive in children less than 18 months old than in adults. In the absence of any treatment up to 50 percent of HIV-infected children die by their second birthday. In Africa, less than 5 percent of HIV-positive children who need treatment have access to it. And every day, another 1,800 children are infected with HIV, mostly at birth or from their mother’s milk. In Europe or America, this is almost unheard of because there is effective treatment to stop pregnant mothers from passing on the virus to their newborns. But in Africa, there is little access to this life-saving prenatal therapy. Furthermore, only 10 percent of pregnant women in Africa have access to basic treatment that could half the rate of transmission of HIV to their newborns.

"It’s another grotesque double standard," said Stephen Lewis, the U.N. AIDS envoy to Africa. ‘It’s everybody’s fault’ Ninety percent of all HIV-positive children under 15 are infected mainly through mother-to-child transmission, according to UNICEF’s global figures.
Special pediatric AIDS drugs have only been made for children in the last two years. We asked Dr. Chris Ouma, UNICEF’s AIDS specialist in Kenya, why children have gotten such a raw deal. "I think it’s everybody’s fault really," he said. "We were slow on the science. We did not speak out for them. Companies did not see the incentive to invest in drugs for children as there’s no one to pay. And all this has now resulted in an unacceptable death [rate]."
He added, "I think now as technology brings out superior drugs, things are starting to change. It’s 10 years too late, but at least something is being done now."

Indeed Kenya is one of the countries that has made a significant dent in AIDS prevalence and treatment. But there still is much more to do. There are currently one million AIDS orphans in Kenya alone. UNICEF reports that around the world, there are about 2.3 million children under 15 living with HIV. Two million of them live in sub-Saharan Africa, or 90 percent of the world’s HIV-infected children.

Grandmothers increasingly raising orphans
Our journey took us from Isiola and the rural tribes in northern Kenya to Kibera just outside Nairobi. Kibera is the world’s largest slum, where 50,000 AIDS orphans scratch out a living. There we came across the amazing phenomenon of African grandmothers — a whole generation of elderly women now looking after their grandchildren, after the mothers and fathers died of AIDS. Without them, these vulnerable children would be dead, or turn to a young life of crime and prostitution. In Isiola, where Kenya’s paved road to Ethiopia and Somalia ends, the incidence of HIV is almost double the national average, and it’s due to the convergence of truck routes and tribal traditions. The drought and famine that recently hit this part of Kenya exacerbates the AIDS and health crises. Tribesmen told us the appalling story of sending their wives out for prostitution, in order to afford food. But along with the food, they bring AIDS back to their tribe and their village.

Motor bikes get drugs to remote areas
However, all is not bleak. In the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro on Masai tribal lands, a team of local doctors and community health workers is bringing 21st century medical care to rural Africa. American philanthropist Anne Lurie, who is also a pediatric nurse, has planned and paid for the AID Village Clinic here, along with its sophisticated medical equipment and highly trained Kenyan doctors.

For the Masai villagers, all the treatment is free.
What makes this clinic truly remarkable, though, is the outreach. Doctors don’t just sit and wait for patients, they go out and find them, treat them, and make regular follow-up calls. The outreach project is the brainchild of two British dirt bikers, Barry and Andrea Coleman, who realized that a transport network was the missing link. "The entire continent of Africa is more or less grounded when it comes to health outreach. Which is a pretty big problem when you think of the effort that goes into sending drugs, sending health care expertise and it all doesn’t reach the people who need it," said Barry Coleman.

Without any government help, they’ve sent hundreds of motor bikes to Africa’s wildest places with money they’ve raised at bike rallies in England. They have also trained the local health workers how to drive and maintain them. It seems to be making a difference in Africa’s medical catastrophe. The Colemans have similar and bigger bike outreach projects in Gambia and Zimbabwe, and doctors there tell them that they are having an effect on reducing the disease and illnesses by getting patients much-needed medicine. He said more such programs are urgently needed: "People are just dying for absolutely no reason at all." He told us that the project we saw in the Masai country could be replicated around Africa. With so much money being poured into AIDS research and government coffers, perhaps one solution is to seek the simple effective approach.

It does work. In the heart of rural Africa, we saw one pregnant mother infected with HIV who got the right prenatal drugs and did not pass on the virus to her son. One life saved, one child saved from becoming another African AIDS orphan.

Doug Ireland

August 16, 2006

New anti-gay witch-hunt

In the East African country of Uganda, the country’s leading tabloid, Red Paper, on August 8 published a list of 45 alleged homosexuals, whom the paper characterized as "men who like to give it to other men from behind," reports today’s daily e-bulletin of the French gay monthly Tetu. A scandal-and-sex sheet modeled on the popular, downmarket British tabloids, Red Paper listed the profession, the city of origin, and in some cases information on the friends and/or partners of those accused of being gay, most of whom were from the country’s capital, Kampala, and its suburbs. In Uganda, homosexuality is punishble by life imprisonment. Tetu quoted a gay Ugandan expat living in France as saying that most of the people outed by Red Paper "have fled the country if they had the means to do so — principally to Europe, since the only African country in which they would not be persecuted is South Africa."

The Ugandan tabloid denounced homosexuality as "an abominable sin, in fact a mortal sin that’s against nature," and said it wanted to "demonstrate how rapidly this terrible vice known as sodomy is eating away at our society." At the same time, yesterday’s Toronto Globe and Mail reports on the case of a 22-year-old Ugandan, Emmanuel Ndyanabo, who was "chased out of his native country this month for wanting to attend the International AIDS Conference in Toronto." The Canadian daily says that "Ndyanabo has applied for refugee status in Canada for fear of being persecuted if he returns to Uganda."

"Ndyanabo is gay, and being a homosexual in Uganda is a crime that comes with a life term in prison. He has already been arrested for running a counselling service for HIV-positive kuchus (homosexuals) in Kampala and his family blamed him for his father’s death last year. ‘Somehow, because I am gay, that killed my father, they say.’ So when he was granted a bursary this month to attend the Toronto conference, he saw it as a long-awaited sign of hope to meet and speak with others like himself. But at the airport, a customs official told him they were on the lookout for people wanting to attend this summit.

"’He [still] stamped my passport, looked at me and said, ‘I wish you luck. But do not come back if they [security] let you through,’ " Ndyanabo told the Globe and Mail. Persecution of homosexuals is nothing new in Uganda, a country in which roughly have the population is Catholic and another third belongs to a homophobic split-off from the Anglican Church. In 2004, the government began a campaign of arresting gay people after a radio call-in show featured a lesbian and two gay men as guests to talk about AIDS prevention. The publication of the list of gays by Red Paper could well trigger another such wave of arrests.

The Walrus Magazine

September 2006

Straight and Narrow: Homophobia ensnares Uganda’s leading gay-rights advocate

by Wendy Glauser
Kampala— “eat me: Top city lesbian tricked, falls in love,” read the front page of the Ugandan tabloid Red Pepper in January 2004. The story read like a diary, beginning with an undercover reporter’s first meeting with Juliet Victor Mukasa, a lesbian. “She grinned, and obviously, because she perhaps thought she had gotten a recruit,” the journalist wrote. Their encounter progressed to an awkward scene: “I whispered sweet nothings in her ears and tried to pull off her shirt but she refused. We had an argument and she went like she can’t show me her boobs.”

Ugandans were shocked to find out that homosexuality was prevalent in Kampala, the country’s capital city, especially at a time when vigilance was at a high. Since 1999, when President Yoweri Museveni heard a rumour about a gay wedding and ordered the arrest of all homosexuals, homophobic displays in Uganda have been widespread and passionate. For example, in 2003 heterosexual lawyer Sylvia Tamale was voted worst woman of the year by government-owned daily the New Vision after she lobbied the country’s equality commission on behalf of homosexuals. And last year, Uganda became the first country in Africa to constitutionally ban gay marriage. (Nigeria has since followed suit.) When I told a Ugandan journalist that I was writing about homosexuality in his country, he responded, “Are you writing that they should all be killed?”

Given this climate, it’s no wonder that Mukasa, Uganda’s most prominent gay activist, requests that we meet at Amnesty International’s office building rather than a more public location. When I arrive, after catching a ride through Kampala on a moped with “I love Jesus” written on the backrest, Mukasa is waiting in a white-walled, fluorescent-lit office. She is wearing her trademark outfit: a black Guinness hat, a denim jacket, and baggy black pants. She has just returned from a human-rights conference in Ireland and it seems to have invigorated her. “We need to remind the government that we are citizens of this country!” she says, tapping the table with her index finger.

The thirty-one-year-old Mukasa recently approached Uganda’s Human Rights Commission to complain about the exclusion of homosexuals from its aids policy. The country’s abc (Abstain, Be faithful, or use a Condom) strategy, acclaimed internationally for reducing the hiv infection rate from 15 to 5 percent, has been hijacked in recent years by evangelical anti-condom crusaders like Uganda’s first lady, Janet Museveni. “They don’t care if gays get aids,” Mukasa says. “But gay people have sex with straight people and we’ve told them!” Her broad shoulders sway as she speaks, and her husky voice spikes in exasperation. Mukasa has gone to the commission about other issues as well; at one point, a female employee tried to set the activist up with her son. “She actually said, ‘Maybe you haven’t found a good man!’”

Ugandans’ anti-gay attitudes are based in part on the country’s poverty, according to aid worker Mohammed Yahya. “We have a welfare state here in Africa, which is the extended family,” he says. “Anything that endangers that system is a threat.” The boom in evangelical Christianity, too, has influenced Uganda’s stance. “The rest of the world needs these “backward Africans’ to come out and tell them marriage is between a man and a woman!” railed Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa to his congregants during a sermon I attended last year.

Mukasa first publicly counterattacked Ugandan homophobia on the radio, in December 2003. Her motivation was the death of Paula Rwomushana, an eighteen-year-old student who committed suicide shortly after being caned in front of her classmates. Rwomushana had been caught with love letters sent to her by other females. Mukasa’s radio appearance led to the story in Red Pepper a month later. The piece ran alongside a photo, displaying her distinctive pouty lips, curly eyelashes, and buzzed head. Now thoroughly outed, Mukasa decided to become a professional activist. “I thought ‘Okay, I’m exposed. What have I got to lose?’” she says.

Plenty, as it turned out. She was kicked out of a friend’s house and found herself unwelcome in family members’ homes. (“What if we have a gay child?!” her brother-in-law yelled at his wife.) Mukasa, who comes from a prominent Kampala family, moved from place to place, at one point spending two nights in a pit latrine. She met with other homosexuals and became the first elected chair of Sexual Minorities Uganda, a coalition of groups that lobbied the government and the media about the discrimination gays face. Mukasa would “beg around” for money, telling people she needed it for bus fare and lunch, then use it to pay for letters and press releases she typed up at Internet cafés.

These efforts culminated in a raid on her house last July. A local council official wanted to apprehend her, she believes, but she was away at the time, so he stole documents relating to her organization and had a visiting lesbian friend arrested for being “idle and disorderly.” According to Mukasa, the official produced a witness who complained about drinking, drugs, and noise—and that the women who hung out there “wear shoes that are for men.”

“People say, ‘You have freedom in your bedrooms, isn’t that enough?’” Mukasa muses. “But it’s not about sex. It’s about being able to put your arm around the one you love in public. Why should we tell lies when things are truly in our hearts?”

BBC News

September 8, 2006

Ugandan newspaper ‘gay’ name list condemned

A Ugandan newspaper’s decision to publish the names of alleged homosexual men is a "chilling development", New York-based Human Rights Watch says. Last month the Red Pepper paper printed 45 first names and professions or areas of work of alleged homosexual men.

HRW says the move could foreshadow a government crackdown in the country, where homosexuality is illegal. But an editor at the paper told the BBC that it was not a witchhunt and that no man on the list was identifiable.

" It’s one of the interesting things for people to read in a tabloid because in African societies homosexuality is still seen as strange," a Red Pepper editor, who asked not to be named, told the BBC News website. " We’ve also printed a list of cheats – people unfaithful to their partners – also with first names etc, because people like reading about other people’s vices," the editor said.

" We don’t want to expose them (homosexuals) to the government and the police has never contacted us to investigate the list. This country is very very tolerant."

But HRW says the gay and lesbian community in Uganda has long been stigmatised and harassed by the government. " For years, President Yoweri Museveni’s government routinely threatens and vilifies lesbians and gays, and subjects sexual rights activists to harassment," said HRW’s Jessica Stern. " At a moment when sensational publicity has spread fear among a whole community, the authorities must exercise their responsibility to protect, not persecute."

The editor dismissed these fears: "People are not going to attack you or arrest you – I don’t remember anybody being prosecuted in courts of law because someone’s gay or lesbian." However, he admitted that people were paranoid about having their names printed in the paper. " People are calling here (the paper) to make sure their names are not named; others are calling and cursing us."
He said the paper was considering publishing the names of lesbians, but a decision had not yet been taken.

September 11, 2006

Ugandan tabloid outs alleged lesbians

by Staff Writer,
Thirteen alleged lesbians have been outed by the Ugandan tabloid newspaper Red Pepper. They include two boutique owners, a basketball player and the daughters of a former MP and a prominent Sheikh. Under the headline, "Kampala’s notorious lesbians unearthed", the tabloid published a photo of two very beautiful unnamed women embracing at a party.

The article urged readers to phone the newspaper with details of any lesbians they know, "To rid our motherland of the deadly vice (lesbianism), we are committed to exposing all the lesbos in the city. Send more names us (sic) the name and occupation of the lesbin (sic) in your neighbourhood and we shall shame her. Call: 0712XXXXXX." One Ugandan lesbian activist said: "I know that some women are definitely going to lose what they have; jobs, homes, families, and friends. It is time that gays and lesbians in Uganda stand together to fight the negative reporting of the press." Ugandan campaigners are relieved that only 13 alleged lesbians were named. They had feared that 20 to 40 women were going to be outed. Some activists suspect that Red Pepper may have scaled back its outing campaign following international protests after it outed 45 alleged gay and bisexual men in August.

There have been a series of government-backed attacks on the Ugandan lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the last year, including an illegal police raid on the home of the lesbian leader of Uganda’s LGBT movement, Victor Juliet Mukasa, in July 2005. Red Pepper is reportedly owned by Salim Saleh. According to Wikipedia, he is the half-brother of the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni. Formerly known as Caleb Akandwanaho, Saleh has faced allegations of corruption and the plundering of resources in the Congo. A former Uganda army chief, he is now Minister of State for Microfinance in the Ugandan government.

The outing of lesbians is the latest in a series lurid, sensationalist homophobic exposes by Red Pepper. Last week, it published the name and photo of a young gay man who is being sought by the police on charges of homosexuality. Gay sex is punishable in Uganda by life imprisonment, under laws originally introduced by the British colonial administration in the nineteenth century. The same newspaper outed 45 supposedly gay and bisexual men, on 8 August 2006. The men outed last month include army officers, priests, university lecturers, entertainers, bankers, students and lawyers. It also published details of five venues popular with gays and lesbians. Ugandan LGBT activists regard the outings as an open invitation to the police and queer-bashers to "have a go." They fear increased state and vigilante persecution. At least five men were arrested soon after the male outing list was published.

Uganda’s Gay And Lesbian Alliance (GALA) reports that unidentified men in army uniform attacked one of the outed gay men. He was taken to a police station where he was forced to make a statement. Victor Juliet Mukasa, chair of Sexual Minorities Uganda, says many gay Ugandans are sick and tired of being pilloried by the Ugandan media, church and political parties. They are "absolutely fed up, determined to defend themselves and no longer ready to be intimidated by exposures and abuse," she said in a statement relayed to gay rights group OutRage!, in London. Under the lurid headline, "Gay Shock!", Red Pepper published its mass outing on 8 August 2006. The newspaper denounced gay people in sensational, bigoted terms: "To a majority of us, straight thinking citizens, it (homosexuality) is an abominable sin, actually a mortal sin that goes against the nature of humanity.

"We are talking about men in this nation who are walking closely in the footsteps of Sir Elton Hercules John and the like by having engines that operate from the rear like the vintage Volkswagen cars. To show the nation how shocked we are and how fast the terrible vice known as sodomy is eating up our society, we have decided to unleash an exclusive list of men who enjoy taking on fellow men from the rear. We hope that by publishing this list, our brothers will confess and go back to the right path."

The LGBT rights movement, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) has circulated a letter of protest and defiance to the Uganda media. Peter Tatchell, campaign coordinator of OutRage!, added: "Uganda is the new Zimbabwe. President Yoweri Museveni is the Robert Mugabe of Uganda – a homophobic tyrant who tramples on democracy and human rights."


19 September 2006

AIDS In Africa: AIDS Village Clinics–A Health Program In Kenya Implemented By Noted Chicagoan

CNN aired a one-hour program on the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa featuring the work of AID Village Clinics, a U.S. public charity, founded and managed by Chicago philanthropist, Ann Lurie. The program highlights AID Village Clinics’ innovative health model that uses a central medical facility and health outreach workers on motorcycles to deliver healthcare to a population of 90,000 Kenyans scattered across a large, rural and resource-poor area of South East Kenya. CNN’s chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour witnesses personal stories of AIDS orphans and children living with HIV/AIDS. She reports there are 12 million AIDS orphans in Africa, and less than 5% of HIV-positive children in Africa who need treatment have access to it. After visiting areas with little or no treatment for children with AIDS, Amanpour visits AID Village Clinics’ project in Mbirikani, Kenya where she reports:

"However, all is not bleak. In the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro on Maasai tribal lands, a team of local doctors and community health workers is bringing 21st century medical care to rural Africa. American philanthropist Ann Lurie, who is also a pediatric nurse, has planned and paid for the AID Village Clinic here, along with its sophisticated medical equipment and highly trained Kenyan doctors. For the Maasai villagers, all the treatment is free. What makes this clinic truly remarkable, though, is the outreach. Doctors don’t just sit and wait for patients, they go out and find them, treat them, and make regular follow-up calls."

HIV/ AIDS and other infectious disease such as tuberculosis are devastating African communities. According to the United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, at the end of 2005, approximately 25 million sub-Saharan Africans were living with HIV/AIDS while only approximately 800,000 were receiving treatment. Even though cheaper drugs and medical supplies are becoming available through philanthropic and foreign assistance programs, 80% of Africans live in rural areas where hospitals, clinics, doctors and nurses are either non-existent or often inaccessible due to poor roads or inadequate means of transportation.

To address this issue, Ann Lurie, a pediatric nurse and philanthropist, implemented a community health model that incorporates a central medical facility, a mobile clinic, and healthcare workers trained to ride motorcycles in the bush. The staff at the central medical facility treats close to 100 patients each weekday. This facility houses exam rooms, an HIV/AIDS voluntary counseling and testing center, labs, a pharmacy, x-ray facility, and a 20 bed in-patient unit for the critically ill. To reach patients at home, some as far as 50 miles away from the central facility, AID Village Clinics created an outreach team of 15 health workers who ride motorcycles and launched a mobile clinic staffed by a physician, nurse, and lab technologist. These mobile health workers leverage the fixed-base infrastructure to treat another 100 patients a day. The AID Village Clinics initiative covers a community of 90,000 individuals dispersed over a wide area of rural Kenya and provides life-saving anti-retroviral therapy to approximately 1,400 patients with HIV/AIDS. AID Village Clinics implemented its health model with assistance from Riders for Health, a United Kingdom-based charity focused on solving medical transport issues in Africa.

World leaders are recognizing that drugs alone will not solve the problem of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. At the August, 2006 International Conference on HIV/AIDS, President Clinton said, "This effort to treat people in remote rural areas requires both the support of national governments and those doing the real work. Our ability to empower them by providing systems, infrastructure, human, and financial resources, drugs and tests, will I believe, determine the course of this epidemic over the next five years."

AID Village Clinics:

The Advocate

September 27, 2006

Activist: "Uganda is the new Zimbabwe"

Thirty protesters picketed the Ugandan High Commission in London on Friday in protest of the persecution of gay and lesbian Ugandans. They were from the National Union of Students LGBT campaign and from the gay rights group OutRage! Recently, Uganda publicly outed 58 alleged lesbians and gay men, sparking an outcry of criticism from gay groups. A letter was presented to the Ugandan high commissioner urging respect for the human rights of LGBT Ugandans.

“ Uganda is the new Zimbabwe,” said Peter Tatchell of OutRage! "President Yoweri Museveni is the Robert Mugabe of Uganda, a homophobic tyrant who tramples on democracy and human rights. Uganda’s antigay laws were imposed by the British colonialists who occupied the country, stole its wealth, and abused its people.” The central African country outlaws male homosexuality under laws originally imposed by the British colonizers in the 19th century.Offenders face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Lesbians and gay men are subjected to vigilante violence by homophobic mobs, especially in rural areas where most of the population live, activists said. Civil rights groups, including Amnesty International, have been critical of the Ugandan government for allowing the abuses to go on. The latest outrage is an outing campaign by the Ugandan tabloid newspaper Red Pepper, which is reportedly owned by Museveni’s half-brother. Activists say Museveni has urged police to hunt down and arrest gay men and lesbians.

Red Pepper has outed 58 alleged lesbians and gays in the last two months and has urged readers to send more names so they too can be outed. The paper also published a list of underground gay venues, exposing them to the risk of homophobic attack.
Recently Red Pepper carried an article headlined "Jinja Cops Hunt for Gays," reporting a police manhunt to arrest gays and lesbians in the city of Jinga. Said the main organizer of the protest, Claire Anderson of the National Union of Students’ LGBT campaign: “We call on individuals and groups, LGBT or otherwise, to protest against the intimidation, arrest, and torture of LGBT people in Uganda.” (

Women’s eNews (

December 17, 2006

African Female Scholars Share Virtual Lifeline

by Gretchen L. Wilson, WeNews correspondent
Female faculty are rare at African universities, but the Internet helps university women exchange ideas and moral support. It provides what some participants call a "virtual feminist university." First in a series on higher education in Africa.
Cape Town, South Africa – When Dr. Sylvia Tamale spoke out a few years ago in favor of gay rights in Uganda–where homosexuality is illegal and regularly prosecuted–the fallout was fierce. Local news media quoted members of the public who said she should be "lynched" and "crucified" for suggesting such a thing. She says politicians, fellow academics, even friends turned against her.

"I felt extremely isolated and lonely," says Tamale, 44, who in 2003 suggested Uganda’s proposed Equal Opportunities Commission prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. But Tamale, a law professor at Kampala’s Makerere University, wasn’t entirely stranded. For support she turned on her computer and sent e-mails to an online network called Strengthening Gender and Women’s Studies for Africa’s Transformation, or GWS-Africa.

About 200 academics are subscribed to the list, and members use it daily to announce job postings, report on emerging issues on the ground, profile women’s achievements or, in Tamale’s case, save morale. Tamale reported what she was going through and in response, she received messages of solidarity from feminist academics and activists across Africa who had met through the African Gender Institute (AGI) at South Africa’s University of Cape Town. "Most of the support and encouragement that I received came from sisters at the AGI and the broader GWS-Africa list serve," she says. "The AGI introduced me to a network of feminist scholars around the continent that have served as an invaluable support base in my intellectual and activist work."

Universities Male-Dominated
Women are more visible on African university campuses than a generation ago, but Tamale says universities remain male-dominated and male-structured. That can be particularly true in sub-Saharan Africa, where 20 million girls are denied any education due to discrimination, poverty and conflict according to a 2005 Save the Children report. While there are no continent-wide figures on women’s representation at universities, post-apartheid South Africa is widely agreed to be a Mecca. But even there, senior women faculty are scarce. At Johannesburg’s venerable University of the Witwatersrand, for instance, women accounted for only 19 percent of associate professors and 17 percent of full professors in recent years, according to Dr. Hilary Geber, a professor there.

In South Africa, female faculty of color are particularly rare. At the University of Cape Town, women account for 35 percent of the school’s overall academic staff of 779. But only 59–or 8 percent–are women of color, according to Nazeema Mohammed, who oversees the school’s transformation from the apartheid system.

But women say representation at universities is just part of the problem. "Obviously, concerns about simply getting the numbers of African women into higher education–as both students and staff–are critical and a first point of advocacy," says Lynne Muthoni Wanyeki, former executive director of the African Women’s Development and Communications Network–known as FEMNET–a collective of African women’s organizations in Nairobi, Kenya. "But the insufficient support for the production, dissemination and use of African feminist knowledge and theory, in all fields, is surprising."

Groups such as the African Gender Institute are using technology as a major tool to overcome those hurdles. Dr. Elaine Salo, a senior lecturer at the African Gender Institute, says online connections to other female thinkers and advocates helps make up for the camaraderie that’s often lacking for women at African universities; it’s a loneliness that may lead many to leave the continent to pursue graduate-level studies. "The Internet and technology play a big role in breaking the isolation," says Salo. "We are doing work here that will result in a generation of scholars who will say: ‘We can do work here that is relevant to our society.’"

Bringing Feminist Scholars Together
Tamale became involved with the African Gender Institute in 2002, when she attended a workshop of African feminist scholars to assess African teaching and research in gender and women’s studies. Later, she took advantage of an institute program that offers visiting academics and activists stints of research and writing for a few months at the Cape Town campus. "Most importantly, what the AGI does is give African women academics the chance to meet each other and to work as though their minds are serious," says Dr. Jane Bennett, head of the African Gender Institute.

The institute was founded in 1996, two years after South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy, to expose African researchers and intellectuals to the importance of gender equity and to support those engaged in that process. Housed in offices at the University of Cape Town, it offers undergraduate and graduate academic programs in gender and women’s studies. Three core teaching faculty also raise up to $1 million a year from international foundations to offer programs for African scholars committed to gender equity.

Through formal instruction, research networks, publications and special projects, the institute regularly reaches hundreds of women across the continent from Ethiopia to Nigeria as well as African scholars in North America and Europe. Academics from French, Portuguese and Arabic-speaking African countries are increasingly collaborating with the group, in which scholars have explored issues ranging from university-based sexual harassment to the lives of urban gay youth in different areas of the world.

As in other advocacy groups for female scholars, technology is critical to the institute’s work. The African Gender Institute’s GWS-Africa project, where Tamale found moral support, aims to be "a completely open-access resource center." On its Web site, women can access papers and presentations, teaching resources and contact information for academic departments and individual scholars. In time, the group wants to post collected works of female African academics in a virtual library.

Online Connections
Female academics in Africa also exchange ideas and information through a number of other Web sites such as FEMNET in Kenya, Zimbabwe’s Women’s Resource Center and Network, Uganda’s African Women’s Economic Policy Network and Cameroon’s Association for Support to Women Entrepreneurs. "There’s actually a virtual African feminist university," says Bennett. "It exists in workshops and in conferences and online. It’s astonishing how under conditions of deprivation you can make this last."

Tamale also began contributing to Feminist Africa, a semi-annual journal the institute has produced since 2002. To ensure as many readers as possible, Feminist Africa is published both as a traditional 150-page academic journal, as well as on a free Web site. It’s one of only two English-language feminist journals on the entire continent, alongside the more eclectic quarterly publication Agenda, published by a group of South African women in Durban.

Feminist Africa "was a great outlet for me to analyze and document my experience," Tamale says. For now Tamale and emerging groups such as Sexual Minorities Uganda continue to challenge the nation’s culture of homophobia. Still, the Equal Opportunity Commission draft bill has not yet been written, and Tamale says there’s "no chance that sexual orientation will feature in the bill when it finally sees the light of day." But Tamale has gone far since the public outcry a few years ago. She became the first female dean of Makerere University’s Faculty of Law in 2004 and, earlier this year, she launched a research project on Gender, Law and Sexuality, which she hopes will someday become a fully fledged research center.

Gretchen L. Wilson is a journalist based in Johannesburg. Her Web site is