SMUG HIV – AIDS Report 2008
SMUG HIV – AIDS – Report Appendix – V Same Sex Sexual Behavior. HIV and Health Care in Uganda
SMUG HIV – AIDS- Report Appendix – IV Gay and Bi Men and HIV in Kampala, Uganda
January 4, 2010 – The New York Times
Americans’ Role Seen in Uganda Anti-Gay Push
by Jeffrey Gettleman
Kampala, Uganda — Last March, three American evangelical Christians, whose teachings about “curing” homosexuals have been widely discredited in the United States, arrived here in Uganda’s capital to give a series of talks. The theme of the event, according to Stephen Langa, its Ugandan organizer, was “the gay agenda — that whole hidden and dark agenda” — and the threat homosexuals posed to Bible-based values and the traditional African family.
For three days, according to participants and audio recordings, thousands of Ugandans, including police officers, teachers and national politicians, listened raptly to the Americans, who were presented as experts on homosexuality. The visitors discussed how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how “the gay movement is an evil institution” whose goal is “to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.”
Now the three Americans are finding themselves on the defensive, saying they had no intention of helping stoke the kind of anger that could lead to what came next: a bill to impose a death sentence for homosexual behavior. One month after the conference, a previously unknown Ugandan politician, who boasts of having evangelical friends in the American government, introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, which threatens to hang homosexuals, and, as a result, has put Uganda on a collision course with Western nations.
Donor countries, including the United States, are demanding that Uganda’s government drop the proposed law, saying it violates human rights, though Uganda’s minister of ethics and integrity (who previously tried to ban miniskirts) recently said, “Homosexuals can forget about human rights.” The Ugandan government, facing the prospect of losing millions in foreign aid, is now indicating that it will back down, slightly, and change the death penalty provision to life in prison for some homosexuals. But the battle is far from over.
Instead, Uganda seems to have become a far-flung front line in the American culture wars, with American groups on both sides, the Christian right and gay activists, pouring in support and money as they get involved in the broader debate over homosexuality in Africa.
“It’s a fight for their lives,” said Mai Kiang, a director at the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, a New York-based group that has channeled nearly $75,000 to Ugandan gay rights activists and expects that amount to grow. The three Americans who spoke at the conference — Scott Lively, a missionary who has written several books against homosexuality, including “7 Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child”; Caleb Lee Brundidge, a self-described former gay man who leads “healing seminars”; and Don Schmierer, a board member of Exodus International, whose mission is “mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality” — are now trying to distance themselves from the bill.
“I feel duped,” Mr. Schmierer said, arguing that he had been invited to speak on “parenting skills” for families with gay children. He acknowledged telling audiences how homosexuals could be converted into heterosexuals, but he said he had no idea some Ugandans were contemplating the death penalty for homosexuality.
“That’s horrible, absolutely horrible,” he said. “Some of the nicest people I have ever met are gay people.”
Mr. Lively and Mr. Brundidge have made similar remarks in interviews or statements issued by their organizations. But the Ugandan organizers of the conference admit helping draft the bill, and Mr. Lively has acknowledged meeting with Ugandan lawmakers to discuss it. He even wrote on his blog in March that someone had likened their campaign to “a nuclear bomb against the gay agenda in Uganda.” Later, when confronted with criticism, Mr. Lively said he was very disappointed that the legislation was so harsh.
Read Article HERE
Related blog on GlogalGayz
January 8, 2010 – American Jewish World Service
AJWS Creates Fund to Promote Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights in Uganda
New York, NY —In response to egregious human rights violations against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals in Uganda, AJWS has established the Urgent LGBT Uganda Fund. The fund will support Ugandan grassroots organizations working to defend the rights of sexual minorities and to defeat a dangerous piece of proposed legislation—"The Anti-Homosexuality Bill."
The bill seeks to broaden the criminalization of homosexuality and penalize supporters and funders of LGBT programs and rights. The passage of this bill would severely impede human rights and development groups’ efforts to ensure the safety and security of the Ugandan LGBT community. It would also make it extremely difficult for groups to implement effective prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. Moreover, the bill violates the freedom of every person to live a safe and dignified life—a core value that unifies all of AJWS’s work and is central to the Jewish experience.
"AJWS’s work is propelled by a very basic value: the essential dignity of every human being," AJWS president Ruth Messinger said. "In the spirit of b’tselem elohim—the understanding that each person is made in the divine image—we recognize that every human life is of equal value.
"We are especially reminded of this in supporting the work of LGBT communities around the globe."
AJWS is part of a growing progressive, faith-based coalition committed to global justice and has joined with leading advocacy organizations and international human rights funders in calling on the U.S. government to swiftly condemn Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. AJWS has also taken the lead in calling upon Jewish and other faith-based leaders to sign onto congressional letters to President Barack Obama and Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. These letters are currently being circulated by the House of Representatives Equality Caucus.
As an international development and human rights organization, AJWS funds more than 400 grassroots organizations in 36 countries throughout Africa, Asia and the Americas—including many organizations working to protect the rights of sexual minorities. AJWS has been standing in solidarity with LGBT communities for a decade. But as the global trend of discrimination and persecution against LGBT people intensifies, the need to respond by safeguarding human rights has become all the more urgent.
In recent months, AJWS has been listening to and working with its grantees in Uganda to strategically and effectively advance human rights in the face of growing insecurity and violence. The new Urgent LGBT Uganda Fund will allow AJWS to continue this work as successfully and productively as possible.
"Through the creation of the Urgent LGBT Uganda Fund, in conjunction with our broader advocacy efforts, AJWS is taking the lead in the Jewish community and in the broader faith-based community to ensure that all people—regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity—can realize their full, true selves," Messinger said. "No one should live in fear, and it is our duty to address these injustices now and always."
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January 8, 2010 – The New York Times
Uganda Lawmaker Refuses to Withdraw Anti-Gay Bill
Kampala, Uganda (AP) – A Ugandan lawmaker on Friday refused to withdraw proposed legislation that would impose the death penalty for some gays and lesbians despite international condemnation and presidential opposition to a measure that could scare off foreign investors. Lawmaker David Bahati said he will not heed a call late Thursday from the government to drop the proposed bill, as he feels such a measure is necessary in the conservative East African country.
On Thursday, Minister of State for Investment Aston Kajara said the government would ask Bahati to scrap the bill because they fear backlash from foreign investors. The bill, which Bahati proposed in September, has provoked criticism from gay-rights groups and protests in London, New York and Washington.
”I stand by the bill,” Bahati said. ”I will not withdraw it. We have our children in schools to protect against being recruited into (homosexuality). The process of legislating a law to protect our children against homosexuality and defending our family values must go on.” That leaves the decision to the country’s parliament, which will discuss the legislation in late February or early March. Although President Yoweri Museveni has told colleagues he believes the bill is too harsh and has encouraged his ruling National Resistance Movement Party to overturn the death sentence provision, Information Minister Kabakumba Matsiko said the parliament will act independently of the presidency. ”The bill did not come from the executive,” she said. ”It is a private members bill.”
Earlier this week, several lawmakers and officials from the ruling party said they will push to remove the death penalty statute, and have proposed instead that gays receive counseling to convert them to heterosexuality. The proposed legislation would toughen Uganda’s already strict laws against homosexuality, which are bolstered by Uganda’s conservative society, which generally frowns on homosexuality.
Lawmakers outlawed gay marriage in 2005. The proposed legislation is being touted as an update to Uganda’s old statutes against homosexuality, which date from the 1950s and do not address homosexuality by name, only what the law terms as ”unnatural offenses” and ”gross indecency.”
The draft of the new bill says anyone convicted of a homosexual act — which includes touching someone of the same sex with the intent of committing a homosexual act — could face life imprisonment. Current legislation imposes seven years’ imprisonment. Under the new law, the death sentence could apply to sexually active gays living with HIV or in cases of same-sex rape. The new law also expands its scope to include Ugandans living abroad, who can be extradited and punished.
Kajara said government officials worried the bill would scare off investors. ”Ever since the bill was tabled, there have been a lot of outcries not only here but from all over the world,” he said. ”There has been negative publicity on Uganda which is not good for investment. As government, we shall talk to the private member who brought it to parliament and request him to withdraw it.”
The measure was proposed in Uganda following a visit by leaders of U.S. conservative Christian ministries that promote therapy for gays to become heterosexual. However, at least one of those leaders has denounced the bill, as have some other conservative and liberal Christians in the United States. On the African continent, South Africa is the only country that allows gay marriage. However, some South African groups have rejected homosexuality as ”un-African” and gangs carry out so-called ”corrective” rapes on lesbians. A 19-year-old lesbian athlete was gang-raped, tortured and murdered in 2008.
The Catholic church in Uganda has said it supports the bill but not the death penalty provision. But a group of non-traditional churches has accused Museveni of siding with gays and maintains that the Bible supports killing gays. Anglican Archbishop of York John Sentamu, who is one of the global fellowship’s most senior priests, has said he condemns the proposed law in his native country.
January 10, 2010 – The Los Angeles Times
Black, gay and indisputably African – The draconian anti-gay legislation being considered in Uganda brings to mind a South African gay nightclub, an answer to the homophobes’ claim that it is un-African to be black and gay.
by Douglas Foster
When word began to whip around the world that the Ugandan parliament would take up a bill making lesbian or gay sex a capital crime, my thoughts went first to a nightclub I frequented when I lived in Johannesburg, South Africa, a few years ago. It was always a revelation to spend an evening at Simply Blue. The club was a collecting spot for Africa’s gay diaspora, and its patrons came from every part of the continent. The age range was wide, class lines were smudged, and there was a symphony of languages. The very existence of the place posed an answer of sorts to the claim of homophobes that there was something un-African about being black and gay.
To get to Simply Blue‘s curved bar and large dance floor, patrons had to climb a long flight of stairs and go through a security pat-down. You could always spot newcomers because they usually sat off to the side in the shadows, on broken-down couches, their eyes wide and jaws slack. Many of them literally had had the idea beaten into them that they were part of a cursed, despicable, tiny minority.
There was the middle-aged man from Zimbabwe, formerly married, whose brother had plotted to have him killed because of the shame he’d brought to his family when he’d switched to dating men. There was a young Nigerian who lingered on the sidelines for weeks before inching out onto the dance floor, but then moved in an explosion of long-suppressed joy at finding himself dancing in public across from another man. I met an older fellow, a soft-spoken farmer from Uganda who’d raised his children before leaving his home, his wife and his country. He’d finally decided he couldn’t live to the end of his life without having the chance to express his truest self.
One night at Simply Blue, I found myself in a long, confusing and infuriating conversation with an evangelical preacher from Soweto, who was the guide for a group of conservative, anti-gay white American evangelicals traveling around the country. He belonged to a sect that inveighed against homosexuality.
Here’s how he reconciled the two halves of his existence: He felt an irresistible need, he said, to occasionally be in a place like Simply Blue with other black gay Africans because it helped him feel less strange, and a little less lonely. But he was also proud that he had so far stayed true to his theology by never acting on his desires. He watched — but never touched.
I thought about that preacher’s story — about the intensity of the pull he felt and also about his shame and self-revulsion — in the context of the three American anti-gay evangelical pastors who recently took their message to Uganda, and now seem shocked at the proposed law introduced in the wake of their visit. They participated in the March conference that sparked the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2009, though they insist they had no intention of inspiring legislation that calls for the death penalty for homosexuals. But by posing as experts who offered testimony about how gay men rape teenage boys and how homosexuals are plotting to destroy marriage and the family, they helped build an explosive device and light a fuse.
One of them, at the time of the conference, announced that these sorts of revelations were like a "nuclear bomb" that would eliminate the entire country of homosexuals. They can’t now disclaim responsibility for the bomb having been detonated.
Read Article HERE
January 13, 2010 – PinkNews
Ugandan president Museveni distances himself from anti-gay bill
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni said yesterday that the country must take into consideration its foreign policy interests when debating an anti-homosexuality bill. Speaking at a party conference yesterday, he made his first public statement on the bill and emphasised it was a private member’s bill, rather than one submitted by the government. It was tabled by Ndorwa West MP David Bahati and calls for the execution of gays in some circumstances.
Other homosexuality offences would result in prison terms ranging from a few years to life. World leaders including British prime minister Gordon Brown have relayed their concerns to Museveni, while Sweden threatened to cut its aid. Museveni said yesterday that the bill "must take into account our foreign policy interests". He added: "The prime minister of Canada came to see me and what was he talking about? Gays. Prime minister Gordon Brown came to see me and what was he talking about? Gays. Mrs Clinton [the US secretary of state] rang me. What was she talking about? Gays."
Last week, Uganda’s minister for ethics James Nsaba Buturo said he believed Museveni did not support the death penalty for gays and said the provision was likely to be removed from the bill. Aston Kajara, minister of state for investments, has also said the bill is "unnecessary". The bill would impose the death penalty on gays who sex with minors, disabled people or while living with HIV. Other homosexuality offences, such as failing to report incidents to police, would result in imprisonment. It is expected to come before parliament in late February or early March.
January 15, 2010 – On Top Magazine
United Nations Condemns Uganda Anti-Gay Bill
by On Top Magazine Staff
The United Nation’s high commissioner on human rights has weighed in forcefully against a proposed anti-gay bill currently before the Ugandan Parliament, the AFP reported. Navi Pillay called the measure that would strengthen the criminal penalties for having gay sex in the African country “blatantly discriminatory.” “The bill clearly breaches international human rights standards,” she said Friday.
MP David Bahati’s bill has been widely condemned by Western countries. This week, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee’s subcommittee on International Trade, threatened to reverse Uganda’s advantageous trade status if it approves the bill. The bill would increase the penalties for being gay in a country where it is already illegal, including adding a death penalty provision for repeat offenders and people who are HIV-positive. It would also criminalize public discussion of being gay, effectively gagging gay rights activists and their allies.
“The bill proposes draconian punishments for people alleged to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered,” she said. Saying that the “state should not dictate the nature of private consensual relations between adults,” Pillay, a South Africa native, called on the Ugandan government to scrap the bill.
January 16, 2010 – Freedom and Roam Uganda Newslink
Kill the Gays or Kill the Bill? A Compilation
On behalf of and as a member of the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights & Constitutional Law, we are pleased to send you the Coalition’s recent compilation of articles, opinions and press statements related to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill currently before Uganda’s Parliament.
As many of you will be aware, the Bill poses a substantial threat to human rights in Uganda, both the rights of same-sex attracted and trans-gendered people and of anybody who fails to report them and the rights of those who seek to work in a supportive manner. Whether it be in terms of protecting LGBTI rights, working on HIV/AIDS prevention, providing counselling, or simply providing information on sex and sexuality, civil society organisations, academics and health workers are all under threat should this bill be passed. Some of the Refugee Law Project’s refugee and asylum seeker clients will be placed at further risk if the Bill passes, and the day-to-day work of providing legal aid and counselling will also be substantially jeopardised.
Since the Compilation was published in late December, there have been further developments: The Catholic Archbishop has described the Bill as Un-Christian, the President has suggested to the ruling party that it should go slow on passing the Bill as it has become a foreign relations issue which is jeopardising important relationships between Uganda and its supporters, and the Speaker of Parliament has responded by saying that the President cannot stop Parliament from debating the Bill.
We urge you all to read through this Compilation, and forward any comments you may have to firstname.lastname@example.org ; these will be forwarded to all Coalition members for further discussion.. Please also contact us if you require hard copies or if you are a Civil Society organisation wishing to join the Coalition.
Due to the difficulties of sending and receiving large files in Uganda and many other countries in the region, we have broken the document down into four parts which are all available on our website. We trust you are able to download them without problems.
However, for those with very good internet connections this compilation can be downloaded as a single document
Please feel free to circulate the Compilation widely to your respective networks.
Break The Silence
January 17, 2010 – Times On Line
West turns Africa into gay battlefield – Western evangelists and gay rights groups are stoking Africa’s bitter rows over homosexuality, writes RW Johnson in Cape Town
by RW Johnson in Cape Town
The trial of a young male couple charged with unnatural practices and gross indecency after announcing their engagement in Malawi was adjourned last week when one of the accused collapsed in court while enduring jeers from the public gallery. Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, was made to return with a mop to clean up his own vomit, even though he has malaria. He and his boyfriend, Steven Monjeza, 26, have been held in Chichiri prison, Blantyre, for more than a week — in order, the judge says, to protect them from mob violence.
Chichiri has a reputation for overcrowding, disease and homosexual rape. The couple say they have been badly beaten and Peter Tatchell, the British gay activist, describes their conditions as appalling. Such scenes will only increase the pressure from western human rights activists and donor countries on Malawi’s government to moderate its draconian anti-gay laws, for which the couple have provided a test case. They face up to 14 years in jail.
Following similar donor pressure, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda distanced himself from an anti-homosexuality bill before parliament in Kampala last week. Museveni appealed to MPs to “go slow” on the private member’s bill, which stipulates the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”, including homosexual acts by HIV-positive men.
Museveni said he had come under pressure from Gordon Brown, Stephen Harper, the prime minister of Canada, and the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, in a 45-minute phone call. He was also struck by the fact that a US protest rally had drawn 300,000 people, saying he would have great difficulty attracting such a crowd.
The two cases illustrate the way Africa is becoming a battleground over differing attitudes to homosexuality in the West. Both sides accuse the other of being driven by external influences: gay rights campaigners say conservative American evangelists are encouraging homophobia, while the anti-gay side insists that homosexuality is only surfacing openly in Africa because of western encouragement. Some argue that the African rows over homosexuality are really a proxy skirmish in an American cultural dispute, with both evangelicals and gay rights groups in the US pouring in money and support.
In Uganda, attention has focused on a visit by three US evangelicals, Scott Lively, Caleb Lee Brundidge and Don Schmierer, just before the anti-homosexuality bill was introduced. They held seminars for MPs and officials where homosexuality was described as a disease that could be healed, although they have subsequently disclaimed any responsibility for the bill. Lively, the president of Defend the Family International, told Ugandans that legalising homosexuality would mean legalising “the molestation of children and having sex with animals”.
Schmierer works with “homosexual recovery groups”, while Brundidge, who claims once to have been gay himself, works with the International Healing Foundation as a “sexual reorientation coach”. He also leads Christian groups to mortuaries where they attempt to raise the dead. Gay activists have placed on the web a video of Lively telling a Ugandan audience that he “knows more than almost anyone else in the world” about homosexuality. He says that the genocide in Rwanda was carried out by gays, that Aids is a just punishment for homosexuality and that foreigners are trying to promote homosexuality in Uganda.
Museveni has warned Ugandan youth that homosexuality is against God’s will and that “European homosexuals are recruiting in Africa”. His minister for ethics, Nsaba Buturo, says homosexuality is a “moral perversion that must not be allowed to spread”. Ugandas churches are themselves strongly homophobic — Archbishop Henry Orombi and Pastor Martin Sempe have been leading a campaign in support of the bill.
The Church of Uganda is vehemently against gay clergymen and when retired bishop Christopher Senyonjo preached tolerance towards homosexuals in 2005, Orombi stripped him of his pension. A similar pattern is found in Malawi. George Thindwa, director of the Association of Secular Humanism, who is attempting to help the arrested gay couple, said “the churches are definitely spearheading the anti-gay campaign here”. He said Malawi was often visited by foreign evangelists, though he thought the local clergy needed little encouragement in their homophobia.
Pastor Mario Manyozo, of Malawi’s Word of Life Tabernacle Church, says “homosexuality is against God’s creation and is an evil act since gays are possessed with demons”. Similar sentiments are echoed by many churchmen, based on the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Pastor Joseph Mbeme, of Malawi’s Ambassadors for Christ Church, says the church must pray for homosexuality to be stamped out. Thindwa points out that 83% of Malawians are Christians and another 13% are Muslims — and that Islamic law is even more hostile to gays. In Muslim northern Nigeria the penalty for homosexuality is stoning to death.
The claim that western influence is encouraging homosexuality is common. Some wealthy westerners are accused of sex tourism and paedophilia. Peter Atekyereza, a sociology professor at Makerere University in Uganda, said “external influence is definitely behind the spread of homosexuality”. He said international organisations had been giving “scholarships and hand-outs in an attempt to recruit young people to homosexuality”.
Many Africans echo President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, who calls gays “sexual perverts — lower than dogs or pigs”, and who claims that homosexuality is “unAfrican” — “leave whites to do that,” he has said. There have even been assertions that homosexuality did not exist in Africa until the white man imported it. Last year nine Senegalese gay activists were jailed for eight years after coming out. This followed an international Aids conference attended by 50 foreign activists who stressed the need for gays to be dealt with openly.
Uganda expelled the local director of UNAIDS, the United Nations programme on HIV and Aids, for organising a meeting with Ugandan gay activists. The US and Sweden, both big donors, have threatened to cut off aid if the anti-homosexuality bill is not moderated. An anguished editorial in The Uganda Record accused the West of trying to bully Africans into homosexuality. “To Africans this is an almost existential matter. Their very future as societies is at stake.”
Additional reporting: Rosie Kinchen
January 19, 2010 – Science Speaks
Physicians, Other Public Health Experts Decry Anti-Gay Bill in Uganda
Nearly 1,500 physicians, scientists, and other global health leaders from the U.S. and around the world today called on Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to stop the Anti-Homosexuality Bill before his country’s Parliament. In a petition that drew signatures from clinicians, professors, researchers and students at leading US and international institutions, these experts said the Ugandan legislation would violate human rights and undermine public health, posing a particular threat to Uganda’s successful HIV/AIDS programs.
The bill would impose life imprisonment, or even death, for same-gender consensual sex acts and threatens imprisonment of individuals who do not report suspected homosexual acts to the police. The proposed law has sparked international condemnation, and there is growing pressure from world leaders on President Museveni to kill the bill. HIV experts are very concerned the legislation would deter an already vulnerable at-risk population from seeking HIV services out of fear that it could land them on death row, as well as intimidating the health care workers who serve these populations.
“This legislation will violate Ugandans’ human rights and will impede successful efforts in HIV prevention by promoting misinformation suggesting that HIV transmission in Uganda is primarily due to male homosexual behavior. It will also create a chilling effect on patients’ willingness to seek HIV testing and prevention services and jeopardizes the fragile gains Uganda has made in combating the AIDS epidemic,” Kenneth Mayer, MD, co-chair of the Center for Global Health Policy’s Scientific Advisory Committee and professor at Brown University, where he directs the AIDS program, said in this news release highlighting the petition.
“This proposal would needlessly undermine public health in Uganda by further stigmatizing people with HIV or at risk of infection and by severely compromising the patient-health provider relationship,” said Michael Saag, MD, chairman of the HIV Medicine Association’s board and a chief of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. (HIVMA and the Global Center helped spearhead the petition effort.)
Here’s the full letter to Uganda’s president: Petition Opposing Harmful Uganda Legislation
The missive to President Museveni comes as Congress prepares to delve into this growing international controversy. On Thursday, Jan. 21, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission will hold a hearing on Uganda’s anti-gay bill, probing the foreign policy, public health, and human rights implications of the legislation. The hearing will be held from 2 to 3:30 p.m., in Room 2172 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
Lawmakers will hear testimony on these issues from the Global Center’s Director, Christine Lubinski, along with a State Department official, a Ugandan human rights expert, and others. It also comes amid reports that David Bahati, the sponsor of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, plans to come to Washington, D.C. to attend the National Prayer Breakfast on February 4. Click here to read more about his planned trip.
January 20, 2010 – PinkNews
Ugandan MP David Bahati will not attend Obama prayer breakfast
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
David Bahati, the Ugandan MP who authored an anti-gay bill currently passing through the country, has reportedly been disinvited from a prayer breakfast with US president Barack Obama. Bahati told a Ugandan newspaper last weekend he would be attending the February 4th event sponsored by the Fellowship – a secretive conservative Christian organisation which is also known as The Family But National Prayer Breakfast spokesman Richard Swett confirmed that he would not be attending the breakfast.
He told blogger Warren Throckmorton: "The National Prayer Breakfast is an organisation that builds bridges of understanding between all peoples, religions and beliefs and has never advocated the sentiments expressed in Mr Bahati’s legislation.”
Fellowship sources said that Bahati had been invited to Washington DC as a volunteer, rather than to attend the breakfast. They said he was had declined the invitation, which was extended before he had introduced the bill in Uganda’s parliament. Members of the Fellowship include politicians, religious leaders and corporate executives. It asks members not to publicly mention its existence and publishes no information about its activitie.
January 20th, 2010 – Box Turtle Bulletin
Uganda’s Cabinet Debates Anti-Gay Bill
by Jim Burroway
Uganda’s state-owned New Vision reports that a “heated” Cabinet meeting took place yesterday to discuss the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The discussions don’t look good: Sources said the Cabinet was divided on the clause spelling out the death penalty. After failing to agree on a position, works minister John Nasasira reportedly proposed that the Bill be delayed. His position was rejected, sources disclosed.
This suggests that there are people in the cabinet who don’t even want the death penalty removed, let alone any of the other draconian and wide-ranging provisions of the proposed legislation. The independent Daily Monitor reports that MP David Bahati, the bill’s sponsor, said that he is willing to amend the proposed law in a way “without putting the values of the country at risk. He was tight-lipped about the Cabinet meeting itself.
The cabinet decided to form a sub-committee headed by Attorney General Khidu Makubuya to suggest amendments to the bill. Other members of the sub-committee include Regional Affairs State Minister Isaac Musumba, Education Minister Namirembe Bitamazire, Gender Minister Gabriel Opiyo, and Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo. Buturo has been one of the bill’s strongest proponents.
It looks like any hope that the bill would be withdrawn is diminishing. Merely “amending” the bill would still leave a bill that would represent a staggering setback for human rights in Uganda. As the bill is currently written, it would:
* Expand the definitions for homosexual acts, making conviction easier. Current law requires evidence of penetration. The new law would expand the definition of homosexual activity to”touch(ing) another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.” Touching itself is defined as “touching—(a) with any part of the body; (b) with anything else; (c) through anything; and in particular includes touching amounting to penetration of any sexual organ. anus or mouth.”
* Affirm Uganda’s lifetime imprisonment for those convicted of homosexuality.
* Define a new crime of “aggravated homosexuality” for those who engage in sex with someone under the age of 18, who are HIV-positive, who is a “repeat offender” (so broadly defined as to include anyone who has had a relationship with more than one person, or who had sex with the same person more than once), or who had sex with a disabled person (consensual or not). The penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” is death by hanging.
* Require anyone arrested on suspicion of homosexuality to undergo HIV testing to determine the individual’s qualification for prosecution of “aggravated homosexuality.”
* Criminalize “attempted homosexuality” with imprisonment for seven years.
* Criminalize “promoting” homosexuality with fines and imprisonment for between five and seven years. This overly-broad provision would criminalize all speech and peaceful assembly for those who advocate on behalf of LGBT citizens in Uganda . It would also criminalize any attempt to repeal or modify the law in the future, as those moves could also be seen as “promoting” homosexuality.
* Criminalize “aiding and abetting homosexuality” with seven years imprisonment. This provision could be used against anyone extending counseling, medical care, or otherwise providing aide gay people.
* Criminalize the act of obtaining a same-sex marriage abroad with lifetime imprisonment.
* Add a clause which forces friends or family members to report LGBT persons to police within 24-hours of learning about that individual’s homosexuality or face fines or imprisonment for up to three years.
* Penalize people who run “brothels” with five to seven years imprisonment for renting to LGBT people. However, it defines a brothel as “a house, room, set of rooms or place of any kind for the purposes of homosexuality” instead of the more normal definition of a place where commercial sex work takes place. Anyone’s bedroom would be a “brothel” under this definition, placing landlords and hotel owners in jeopardy for renting to LGBT people.
* Add an extra-territorial and extradition provisions, allowing Uganda to prosecute LGBT Ugandans living abroad.
* Void all international treaties, agreements and human rights obligations which conflict with this bill.
It’s impossible to imagine any amendments short of a “strike-all” amendment that would represent a material improvement to the bill.
February 4, 2010 – The New York Times
National Prayer Breakfast Draws Controversy
by Laurie Goodstein
For more than 50 years, the National Prayer Breakfast has served as a prime networking event in Washington, bringing together the president, members of Congress, foreign diplomats and thousands of religious, business and military leaders for scrambled eggs and supplication. Usually, the annual event passes with little notice. But this year, an ethics group in Washington has asked President Obama and Congressional leaders to stay away from the breakfast, on Thursday. Religious and gay rights groups have organized competing prayer events in 17 cities, and protesters are picketing in Washington and Boston.
The objections are focused on the sponsor of the breakfast, a secretive evangelical Christian network called The Fellowship, also known as The Family, and accusations that it has ties to legislation in Uganda that calls for the imprisonment and execution of homosexuals. The Family has always stayed intentionally in the background, according to those who have written about it. In the last year, however, it was identified as the sponsor of a residence on Capitol Hill that has served as a dormitory and meeting place for a cluster of politicians who ran into ethics problems, including Senator John Ensign, Republican of Nevada, and Gov. Mark Sanford, Republican of South Carolina, both of whom have admitted to adultery.
More recently, it became public that the Family also has close ties to the Ugandan politician who has sponsored the proposed anti-gay legislation. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a government watchdog group, sent a letter this week to the president and Congressional leaders urging them to skip the prayer breakfast. They have also called on C-Span not to televise it this year.
Melanie Sloan, executive director of the ethics group, said: “It is a combination of the intolerance of the organization’s views, and the secrecy surrounding the organization. It doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be allowed to hold their breakfast; of course they should. The question is, Should American officials be lending legitimacy to it, giving their imprimatur by showing up.”
The Family has no identifiable Internet site, no office number and no official spokesman. J. Robert Hunter, a member who has spoken publicly about the group, said that it was unfair to blame the Family for the anti-gay legislation introduced by David Bahati. Mr. Hunter said that about 30 Family members, all Americans, active in Africa recently conveyed their dismay about the legislation to Ugandan politicians, including Mr. Bahati.
Mr. Hunter said the recent controversies had prompted a debate within the group about its lack of transparency. “I and quite a few others are saying we should be much more open,” he said.
Jeff Sharlet, author of “The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power” (Harper Perennial, 2009) said in a telephone interview, “Here’s an organization that, in the past, has not acknowledged its own existence.” “It’s not a sinister plot. This is their theological stance,” said Mr. Sharlet, who infiltrated the group to do research for his book. “Their leader, Doug Coe, says that the more invisible you can make your organization, the more influence it will have.”
A White House official said that Mr. Obama, like each president since Dwight D. Eisenhower, planned to attend the breakfast. Michelle Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and other cabinet members will also attend. The president will deliver remarks about “the importance of an openness to compromise,” the official said. The official also said that the president and the State Department had spoken out strongly against the legislation in Uganda.
The breakfast, which usually features a prominent keynote speaker (past ones have included Bono, Mother Teresa and former Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain), is only the most visible in several days of gatherings where the Family’s networking takes place in smaller groups. There are separate meetings for African politicians, military leaders, business people and media professionals, to name a few. Many states also have prayer breakfasts this week, which may appear to be government-sponsored but are also mostly affiliated with the Family.
Liberal members of the clergy and gay rights leaders organized the alternative events in haste this year, calling theirs the American Prayer Hour. The will convene at places like Calvary Baptist Church in Washington; Glendale City Seventh-day Adventist Church in California; the bishop’s chapel of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York, in Rochester; and Covenant Community Church in Center Point, Ala. Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out, a gay rights group, said he initiated the prayer-hour idea because many religious Americans who attend the breakfasts have no idea about the connection to the Family and the anti-gay legislation.
“They have symbolically taken the mantle of religion,” Mr. Besen said, “and I think it’s time to take it back. And the American Prayer Hour is a step in that direction.”
04 February 2010 – VOA News
Obama Condemns Anti-Gay Bill in Uganda
by Robert Raffaele – Washington
U.S. President Barack Obama has sharply criticized an anti-gay bill in Uganda that would impose the death penalty in some cases. Other western governments and gay rights activists also have criticized the legislation. Supporters accuse the U.S. and other western nations of interfering in Uganda’s internal affairs. VOA’s Robert Raffaele has more.
The Ugandan measure calls for the death penalty or life imprisonment for HIV-positive homosexuals who have sex with minors. Earlier this week, at the U.S. Congress, some 200 lawmakers introduced a resolution condemning the bill. U.S. President Barack Obama criticized the Ugandan measure while speaking at a prayer breakfast Thursday in Washington. "We may disagree about gay marriage, but surely we can agree that it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are — whether it’s here in the United States or, more extremely in odious laws that are being proposed, most recently in Uganda," he said.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she recently called Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, expressing the "strongest concerns" about the proposal. Mr. Museveni is now calling the bill a ‘foreign policy’ issue. He’s urged lawmakers to craft a measure that, in his words, ‘does not compromise our principles’ and takes into account Uganda’s foreign policy interests. "The Prime Minister of Canada came to see me and what was he talking about? Gays. Prime Minister Gordon Brown came to see me and what was he talking about? Gays," he said.
The bill’s author, Ugandan politician David Bahati, has this response to nations threatening to withhold aid if his measure passes. "We would rather stay with our values and you stay with your money," he said.
Gay rights activists in Uganda say the measure has intensified anti-gay prejudice. Pepe Julia Onzeima says she has been harassed frequently. "I have been picked up off the street, detained for sometime, ridiculed, intimidated, some money taken away from my wallet, and then I am.. .you know, they release me, they tell me ‘go,’ " she said. Anti-gay measures have emerged in some east African countries in recent months. Kenya and Tanzania already have anti-gay laws that gay rights activists fear could be expanded.
February 1, 2010 – Gay Uganda
Knock on the Door
Yesterday was out having fun in a bar. Left early, didnt want to repeat the ‘mistakes’ of Sat night. Or, the excesses,… Today, early in the morning, as I hold my love, a phone call. Guy is inside his house, police is outside, and they are going to arrest him. A heads up. He had known it was coming. And, he kept phoning around yesterday. We telling him to get out of his home, to stay away for some time.
He was distraught, planning to give himself up. Intimating that he was tired of running.
Now, the knock early morning on the door. We say we shall run. But, what if we cannot run? We have family, jobs, businesses. We are normal human beings. Common Ugandans. What of when we cannot run? We live like ostritches, heads buried in the sand. We party and dance, and forget that we can be deprived of life and freedom. Because we are what we are. I was with some friends who are HIV positive. Asked them what they think about the bill. Silence.
I think I lost my temper. Told them in detail what the bill says. If they are ever caught having sex, them, because they are positive, then they are due to have the death penalty. I dont joke, because those are the facts. Check them out at the bill text here. Or, below, the relevant section.
3. Aggravated Homosexuality
(1) A person commits the crime of Aggravated homosexuality where the-
(b) Offender is a person living with HIV.
(2) A person who commits the offence of Aggravated homosexuality shall be liable on conviction to suffer death.
(3) Where a person is charged with the offence under this section, that person shall undergo a medical examination to ascertain his or her HIV status.
4. Attempt to commit the offence of Homosexuality
(2) A person who attempts to commit the offence of Aggravated Homosexuality commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for life.
Yes, I think I was brutal. But sometimes it is necessary. There was a lady with the guys. I told her, even you, the Bahati bill does not exclude you. You cannot have sex with your lover. If you attempt to do so, then you get life imprisonment. If you are proven to have done so, then you get the death penalty.
And, it doesnt matter whether your lover knows, whether you disclosed your status, whether there was any transmission of HIV. What matters is the letter of the law. And, that is what it says.
They were silent. I was feeling ashamed of my outburst. But, this bill is hell on earth. We cant fight it from the shadows. And, we have to fight it in the face of people who are ready to tell lies, even to the text of the bill, even when it is absolutely specific in language. Have gay sex when you have HIV, doesnt matter whether you a man or woman. On conviction, life in prison, or death. It doesnt matter that you have used any protection. It doesnt matter that you have a partner who is a consenting adult. It doesnt matter that you dont know that you are HIV positive.
The text of the bill, the text that David Bahati presented to parliament, it is that specific. It is that chilling. You know, told you that the phone call was when I was holding my lover in my hands? We wanted to make love, but, with the news I felt down, low. And I felt I had to write this down. We have to fight this bill. It should not become law in any form at all. That is what I aim for. And, we need to educate our country people, counter the lies that have been spread of us.
February 19, 2010 – AWID
Ugandan lesbian activist Kasha Jacqueline speaks about being lesbian in Uganda, and discusses the infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill currently before the country’s parliament. Kasha is the Coordinator of Freedom and Roam Uganda.
by Kathambi Kinoti
AWID: Please tell us about Freedom and Roam Uganda and how it was started.
Kasha Jacquline: Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) is the only exclusively lesbian, bisexual and transgender organization in Uganda. It was started by three lesbian-identified women on July 4, 2003 in a bar which at the time the media frequently called a lesbian bar. Many lesbian women who heard the news started coming to the bar to hang out and make new friends. Earlier, in April 2003 we had been approached by a group of men who claimed to have a lesbian organization by the name Makerere University Students Lesbians Association. When we asked them where the lesbians were and why it was led by men, they said that the women were “shy.” Later we did some research and learnt that these men were not university students nor did any such organization exist.
AWID: Why do you think they would do this?
KJ: Simply because they wanted to use women for their own agendas. Otherwise why would a group of men claim to be a lesbian organization?
After this incident we decided to take up the idea of forming our own lesbian organization. We then brainstormed about what to call ourselves and what the organization would look like. It wasn’t easy because when we introduced it to other lesbians they had mixed feelings. Some wanted it to just be a social club but some of us wanted it to have a political component. At this time, many people had come to know about us and the bar in which we met and would wait for us outside in order to harass us as we left. We argued that it didn’t make sense for us to meet everyday, drink, smoke, and talk about women and sex, and then leave the bar only to get harassed on our way home. This issue introduced some friction into the newly formed organization and some people left including one founder member who had wanted it to be strictly a social club.
The rest of us who still wanted to be part of the group decided that those who wanted to participate in it only to the extent of socializing would have space to do so, and those who wanted to use it as a forum for their political activism could go ahead so long as they wouldn’t expose the names or identities of those who didn’t want didn’t want these revealed to the outside world. And since then FARUG has never looked back.
AWID: What is the situation like for lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Uganda today, even without the obnoxious Bill that is currently before parliament?
KJ: Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda. For many people and institutions, it is a no- go area. Many of us have been expelled from schools just for writing love letters to our same-sex lovers, something our heterosexual colleagues are not expelled for. My principal at university even made me sign a memorandum of understanding that I would not go anywhere within a radius of 100 metres of the girls’ hostels because I am a lesbian! So many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons have been expelled, sacked from jobs and sent away from families. Many do not receive appropriate and necessary healthcare services for fear of revealing their sexual orientation, identity or preferences. Transgender individuals and lesbians have been subjected to ‘curative’ rape and the perpetrators in most of the cases recorded come from the victims’ immediate families.
LGBTI persons if identified are harassed on the streets, in public recreation centres and churches. Many have been evicted from their houses by landlords. I was once thrown out of a public taxi[i]because a woman who identified me as a lesbian said she would rather pay for the empty space beside her than have me sit in the same vehicle as her. When I got out of the taxi she continued to shout and draw attention to me. Some bodaboda[ii] riders stationed nearby heard her and one of them whom I didn’t identify hit me on the head with a hard, sharp object. So it is really not a safe environment for LGBTI persons, especially those of us who are out and are actively doing advocacy work to end the criminalization.
Read The Interview HERE
March 1, 2010 – PinkNews
450,000-signature petition against anti-gay bill delivered to Uganda’s parliament
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
Civil rights activists delivered a petition containing almost half a million signatures to Uganda’s parliament today in protest over the country’s anti-homosexuality bill. The online petition was organised by campaign group Avaaz, which hopes to eventually garner one million signatures. It was delivered to Uganda’s parliament in Kampala this morning by a delegation led by Anglican priest Canon Gideon Byamugisha.
The petition was accompanied by a letter asking parliament to reject the controversial bill and instead pass legislation to protect gay people. The Daily Monitor reports that the Speaker of Parliament Edward Sekandi promised the delegation he would refer the petition to a committee for scrutiny. If passed, the legislation will impose the death penalty on those who have homosexual sex with a minor, disabled person, while infected with AIDS.
The death penalty would also be imposed on repeat offenders, while others convicted for having gay sex would be jailed for life, instead of the current 14-year term. Those who fail to report homosexual activity, such as relatives, teachers, landlords or health workers, would also face prison sentences. The bill is now before parliament and awaiting debate.
Pressure has been building on Uganda to reject it in the past few months and world leaders such as US president Barack Obama and UK prime minister Gordon Brown have urged Ugandan leaders to withdraw it.
March 2010 – BBC
Handling issues of homosexuality in Uganda’s rural media
As BBC World Service Trust staff wrap up their project ‘Strengthening democracy through media in rural Uganda’, international trainer Rachael Borlase explains the difficulties in tackling one of the country’s most contentious human rights issues. “I’ve been avoiding discussing the Bahati Bill because it has created a lot of controversy. Everybody is talking about it,” says Ugandan journalist Moses Walugembe. Those are not the words you expect to hear from a senior producer of Radio Buddu’s popular talk show Kinanjokyankimize. Walumgembe usually likes to tackle difficult issues ranging from food shortages in some of his district’s poorest areas, to border security.
But talking about the Bahati Bill is another matter. Nicknamed after the Member of Parliament who drafted it, David Bahati, Walugembe is referring to Uganda’s controversial Anti-Homosexuality bill. The proposed legislation, which is currently being reviewed by a committee, says individuals found guilty of having gay sex will be sentenced to life in prison. And anyone who has gay sex with a minor could face the death penalty. Even people who aren’t gay could be penalised up to seven years in prison if they don’t report homosexual acts to the police.
Since the bill was drafted last year, the national media in Uganda has capitalised on its controversy, running front page stories and high-profile debates on radio and television networks. But coverage outside the capital Kampala has been minimal.
Walumgembe says the boss of his radio station in Masaka forbid him from discussing the issue and local authorities wouldn’t allow it either. “Part of doing a successful programme is to have balance, at least that’s what we’re being taught in our BBC WST training,” says Walugembe. “But I know I can’t balance this issue because I wouldn’t be allowed to get the perspective of gay people or the people who support them.”
For the past six months, journalists like Walugembe have been undergoing BBC WST mentoring on political and human rights reporting at their local stations. A large part of that training has been to teach and promote editorial values in news and programming. But enforcing editorial values like balance, fairness and objectivity has been difficult when handling the anti-gay bill. “Most rural stations have a strong attachment to culture and the need to promote, defend and protect that culture. Most cultural norms are against homosexuality and local and national leaders will use all means necessary, including radio, to fight against homosexuality,” says mentor Wilson Kaija.
Kaija says since most of the journalists he works with are anti-gay, it has been difficult for him to guide stations to cover the issue. “I have been trying to emphasise that gays are human beings who have a right to live and to be heard. It is not easy though, to articulate this argument,” he explains. “Until recently, it was almost criminal to sustain any meaningful discussion on issues of homosexuality in Uganda media, especially radio. Most of the discussions in newspapers, on radio and on TV have been narrow, one-sided and event-oriented, largely leaving the issue untouched.”
But last month, Kaija helped Unity FM presenter Billie Otto produce an interactive radio programme on the anti-gay bill. Otto did his best to balance the programme by inviting local leaders and human rights activists to weigh in on the issue, but he says the show ended up being one-sided. “It was difficult because when I tried to clarify things from the pro-gay point of view, people thought I was in support of gay people. They even called me out on air,” he says.
BBC WST mentor Patricia Oyella thinks the Ugandan media has done a poor job of representing the pro-gay perspective in their coverage of the anti-gay bill. But while she thinks those voices need to be heard, she says it’s important for media houses to be careful in their approach. “There could be potential backlash, and you can’t underestimate that. This is a very traditional, conservative society. You can’t be seen to be trying to impose. If anyone interprets what you’re doing as actively promoting homosexuality it will receive a big backlash,” she says.
A fine balance
Oyella thinks that instead of tackling the issue of homosexuality head-on, there are less-inflammatory ways to bring out the issues of gay rights in the media. “They could cover it when they have for instance a cross dresser that’s being arrested, or maybe a trans-gender person who is being victimised…But just coming out and reporting issues of homosexuality and saying ‘Look! Let’s discuss issues of homosexuality’, you are just going to create a hate campaign and you are not going to be able to control it.”
As local mentors for the BBC WST, both Oyella and Kaija also say they need to be careful about how far they can press journalists to discuss gay rights in their programmes. Many Ugandans feel developed countries came out too hard against the bill, some even threatening to cut aid if it gets passed. Oyella says it is important the BBC WST continues to promote balanced, impartial and good journalism but that it shouldn’t be seen as trying to impose an editorial agenda. So while the anti-gay bill continues to be reviewed in parliament, producer Moses Walugembe will focus his programmes on other pressing issues that are on the minds of his listeners. And with the national elections just a year away, he knows he won’t run out of other controversial issues to talk about.
4 March 2010 – LGBT Asylum News
State Department Investigating LGBT Treatment In Uganda and Throughout Africa
Official portrait of United States Senator (Source: Box Turtle Bulletin)
by Jim Burroway
Last January, we reported that Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, asking them to “communicate immediately to the Ugandan government, and President Yoweri Museveni directly, that Uganda’s beneficiary status under AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act) will be revoked should the proposed legislation be enacted.” The legislation he’s referring to, of course, is the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill that is, as far as we are able to determine, awaiting its second reading before Parliament.
The State Department has now responded to Sen. Wyden’s request. In a letter dated Feb 22, 2010 and released by Sen. Wyden’s office, Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs Richard Verma responded that the department is not only “identified this issue as a priority in our bilateral relationship” with Uganda (PDF: 112KB/2 pages):
We have reached out at the highest levels; Secretary Clinton and Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson have discussed our concerns directly with President Museveni. In addition, our embassy in Kampala has been in close and regular contact with key political, media and civil society actors on the ground in Uganda, registering strong opposition to the bill and warning the Ugandans of potential consequences if it passes. The ambassador reiterated our concerns with President Museveni as recently as January 25, and Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero just visited Uganda on January 29. She met and offered support and encouragement to civil society groups opposed to the legislation and underscored our views to senior Ugandan officials. We are following this bill very closely.
In Museveni’s remarks urging Parliament to “go slow” on considering the draconian legislation, he cited a long conversation with Secretary Clinton in declaring that the bill was not just a domestic issue but also had foreign policy considerations.
Assistant Secretary Verma characterized Uganda’s proposed bill “a serious affront to internationally accepted human rights standards.” And interestingly, the State Department’s concerns aren’t limited to Uganda:
The State Department is also evaluating attitudes and laws that marginalize and criminalize and penalize the LGBT community in Africa more broadly. We have asked all of our embassies in Africa to report on host country laws and pending legislation that criminalizes homosexuality. In addition, our Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor has established a task force on LGBT issues to strategize a United States Government response to LBGT issues worldwide.
March 8, 2010 – Time
Being Gay in Uganda: One Couple’s Story
by Glenna Gordon
Pepe Julian Onziema looks great in a suit. Tall and lanky, she doesn’t slouch to hide her height and doesn’t apologize for her boyish figure. Or for anything else. She’s got at least 10 suits: pinstripes, white linen, black, gray, navy and others. She buys them from a guy who runs a shop on Entebbe Road, a major Kampala thoroughfare. He knows her build, and he knows what she likes.
These days, though, Onziema doesn’t wear suits nearly as often as she used to. As one of a dozen or so publicly out Ugandan homosexuals, Onziema knows that even a trip to a local shop is risky. Wearing a suit can be a death wish. Last year, a member of Uganda’s Parliament, David Bahati, introduced a bill that, if it becomes law, will further criminalize homosexuality in Uganda. "Aggravated homosexuality," according to the bill, will become a capital offense, and anyone who doesn’t report a known homosexual within 24 hours will be subject to punishment of up to seven years in jail.
No matter how many precautions homosexuals in Uganda take, they won’t necessarily be safe, says Onziema’s partner, who did not want her name used for fear she will be persecuted. "When you’re just walking, someone will turn and look, and have a second look, and a third, and a fourth." That’s not surprising in a country where newspaper polls show 95% of people support the bill.
Onziema and her partner met playing rugby at a local Kampala club a couple of years ago. Onziema knew "within five seconds" that she had met the one, she says. It took her partner a bit longer. Onziema has known her whole life that she’s gay, but her partner is not out publicly, and the process of coming to terms with who she is took a little longer. After they’d been friends for a few months, Onziema made her move. "There was a kiss," she grins. "She wasn’t expecting it." Since then, the couple have been through a lot together. One year in a kuchu relationship — the Luganda word for gay is one that people in the community use to describe themselves — is like 10 years in a heterosexual relationship, kuchus say. That would make Onziema and her partner’s three years more like 30.
Onziema’s partner doesn’t mind that her girlfriend works trying to protect gay rights and change public opinion in Uganda. But she worries about the dangers Onziema might face, especially with the bill working its way through Parliament. In 2008, when Onziema and other kuchus handed out flyers at an HIV conference in Kampala, they were charged with trespassing. The trial dragged on for months and months. Though the charges were ultimately dropped, the experience in prison was traumatic for Onziema. Several officers taunted her — discussing whether she was to be put with the male inmates or the female ones. Her clothes were forcibly removed, and an officer touched her genitals "for confirmation."
Both Onziema and her partner know the next time might be even worse. With things as turbulent as they are now, Onziema mostly stays at home but inevitably has to leave the house from time to time. About a year ago, her partner’s father assaulted Onziema when he saw the couple walking down the street together. She ended up bruised and battered, with torn clothes and a mild concussion.
In comparison with the open hostility Onziema faces from the outside world, life is beautifully mundane domesticity at her and her girlfriend’s airy apartment in Kampala. Her partner cooks; Onziema chimes in that she does too — in a way that makes it obvious that she doesn’t. They both clean; they have friends over for beers; they watch music videos. Onziema wants more. She bought her girlfriend a ring and hopes to get married. "But if we get married, her dad has to give her away," Onziema says, discouraged by the torn jeans she’s kept from the night of the attack. To be gay in Uganda is to be hopeful, always, that things will get better. Onziema hopes and believes that she and her partner will marry one day. They’ve already talked about buying a new suit at the shop on Entebbe Road for her, and a white dress for her partner.
March 9, 2010 – Foriegn Poilcy
The World’s New Gay Rights Battlegrounds
They’re here, they’re queer, and governments from Africa to Asia don’t quite know what to do about it. Four countries where gay rights movements face an upward battle for equality.
by Peter Williams
The struggle for gay rights in the United States has been going on now for decades, brought into the national consciousness by the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and 1990s and most recently crystallized by the battles over same-sex marriage and the "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy for gays in the military. In other parts of the world, however, the fight is in much earlier stages. Here are four countries where nascent gay- and transgender-rights movements are just picking up steam — and meeting some ugly backlash as well.
The battle: Uganda’s Parliament, not content with the colonial-era anti-gay legislation that already exists, is considering the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which seeks to punish "aggravated homosexuality" — essentially, sex if one of the participants is HIV-positive — with death, and other forms of gay sex with life imprisonment. Those who are aware of homosexual activity and fail to report it face up to three years in prison. The bill, which could be voted on as soon as this month, would also criminalize working for gay rights, with a possible sentence of up to seven years.
The outlook: After intense pressure from foreign governments and human rights NGOs, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has distanced himself from the bill, believing that passing it would potentially jeopardize foreign donors’ willingness to send aid to Uganda. But, though the bill has catalyzed action in Uganda and overseas (and focused attention on three American evangelicals who appear to bear some accidental responsibility for the bill’s genesis), anti-gay sentiment is still stubbornly entrenched there, and it will take a lot for that to change. Uganda is far more likely to remain one of the almost 40 African countries that still bans homosexuality altogether than it is to join South Africa, the only country on the continent to legalize gay marriage.
March 10, 2010 – Xtra
Obama administration meets with gay leaders in Uganda
by Kaj Hasselriis
Two high-level US diplomats from Washington had a one-hour meeting with gay rights leaders in Uganda to strategize against the country’s controversial anti-gay bill. "They promised to fight hard to make sure the bill doesn’t go through," said Brown Kiyimba, a Unitarian minister. Kiyimba was one of five gay rights leaders at the meeting, which took place on Mar 3 at the US embassy in Kampala. Like Kiyimba, the other four leaders were members of the Civil Society Coalition, a network of Ugandan NGOs that oppose the bill.
The two diplomats who travelled from Washington were from the US Bureau of African Affairs — Geeta Pasi, the bureau’s East Africa director and Bruce Wharton, the bureau’s director of public affairs. They were joined by a Kampala embassy staff member. "They wanted to know what the embassy and government at large can do to stop the bill," said Kiyimba. According to Kiyimba, gay leaders suggested a range of strategies, including imposing economic sanctions on the country and convincing US Evangelicals who are popular in Uganda to speak out more forcefully against the bill.
One member of the Civil Society Coalition even urged a Ugandan visit from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but Kiyimba said the image of Clinton smiling and shaking hands with Ugandan politicians would make it look like she endorses their anti-gay views. Civil Society members asked the US government to support the coalition’s work against the bill, but no money was promised at the meeting. Diplomats did, however, promise to consider granting American visas to Ugandan gay leaders so they can travel to the US this summer and raise awareness about the legislation.
Kiyimba said the diplomats spoke very little at the meeting. "Mostly they wanted to hear from us," said Kiyimba. But US officials expressed specific concern about American investment in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Many people, including members of the coalition, believe that, if the bill passes, it will drive homosexuality in Uganda further underground, making it harder to give safe sex information to gays and lesbians.
The gay rights leaders in attendance also expressed concern about the safety of activists who are getting more and more publicly known for their views — and sexual orientations. "People at the grassroots are insecure," Kiyimba said he told the diplomats. "We’re becoming known as people who are promoting homosexuality." Just walking down the street is becoming scary for some community members, Kiyimba said. He added that, if the bill passes, many people are already planning to flee the country. That led to a short discussion on what the US government might be able to do to help asylum-seekers.
The Obama administration’s opposition to Uganda’s anti-gay bill — which calls for the execution of gays and lesbians who have homo sex more than once, the imprisonment of people who keep gays hidden and the abolition of organizations that advocate for gay rights — is well-known. Clinton spoke with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni about the legislation last fall, and US President Barack Obama recently denounced it in a speech. But until now, it was not known that the US government is actively soliciting the views of Uganda’s gays and lesbians. Kiyimba said he wishes last week’s meeting had happened sooner. "The meeting is a bit late," he said. "They should have consulted us last fall."
But he said he was encouraged by the supportive tone of the embassy meeting, as well as the diplomats’ assurance that there would be other get-togethers in the future. "I take it as a start," said Kiyimba. "It’s just a beginning. The Obama administration is seriously concerned about the bill and committed to help." This reporter sat outside the US embassy in Kampala during the meeting and afterwards and talked to one other participant who confirmed Kiyimba’s account of the meeting’s agenda and tone. Xtra contacted the US embassy for comment but did not receive an answer.
March 25th, 2010 – Box Turtle Bulletin
Canada’s House of Commons Condemns Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill
by Jim Burroway
Canada’s House of Commons yesterday unanimously condemned Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which is currently before Uganda’s Parliament. That bill, if enacted, would impose the death sentence in certain circumstances, and would even criminalize providing health services to, renting to, or merely knowing someone who is gay. The motion before Canada’s House of Commons was introduced by New Democrat MB Bill Siksay (Burnaby-Douglas, BC). According to a press release from Siksay’s office, the motion reads:
That this House commends the Government of Canada for the clear position it has taken against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill currently being debated in the Parliament of Uganda and encourages continued direct diplomatic efforts in conjunction with other countries and organizations to see the bill withdrawn, homosexuality fully decriminalized in Uganda, and the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and transsexual Ugandans fully respected.
After the vote, Siskay said:
“I very much appreciate the co-operation of the Conservative Party, the Bloc Québecois, and the Liberal Party. All parties in the House worked together to take a stand against this regressive bill and in solidarity with the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and transsexual community in Uganda,” said Siksay. “Given this strong all party commitment to GLBTT rights, I hope that the government will continue to pursue this issue at all possible levels.”
“This bill is an attack on human rights and civil liberties. Canada must continue to do all it can to see that it is withdrawn,” concluded Siksay. MP Siksay became the first openly gay non-incumbent to be elected to Parliament in 2004. Siksay serves as the NDP’s Critic in the shadow government for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Transsexual issues.
April 9, 2010 – Box Turtle Bulletin
The Quiet Death of Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” Bill?
by Jim Burroway
Uganda’s draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which imposes life imprisonment on gay people, with the death penalty added under certain circumstances, was introduced in Parliament last fall. It was then sent to two Parliamentary committees for further review, namely the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee and the Presidential Affairs Committee. A month later, Uganda president Yoweri Museveni urged the Parliament to “go slow” on the bill, citing international outcry and the resulting foreign policy implications.
And slow it has certainly gone since then. When Parliament returned from recess in early February, the anti-gay bill was expected to be near the top of the agenda with passage expected in March and a presidential signature by Easter. But Easter has come and gone with no apparent action from either Parliamentary committee. AFP is now reporting that Members of Parliament say there is little enthusiasm for the bill and no time table has been set for its debate:
“I think it is useless and will not achieve what it intends to achieve,” said Alex Ndeezi, a member of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee tasked with reviewing the bill before it can be presented to the house.
…The panel’s chairman Stephen Tashyoba said the draft law was not a priority. “As far as I am concerned, we really have more urgent matters to discuss like electoral reforms, which are already behind schedule,” he said.
April 20, 2010 – PinkNews
Homophobic Ugandan MP may be banned from Britain
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
The government is attempting to ban the Ugandan MP who introduced legislation to execute gays from entering the UK. David Bahati, the MP for Ndorwa West, introduced the anti-homosexuality bill last year. If it succeeds in parliament in its current form, some homosexuality offences will be punished with the death penalty.
According to the Guardian, civil servants in the Foreign Office, the Department for International Development and the Borders Agency are drawing up plans to block Mr Bahati’s visa if he does not drop the bill. A senior government source said the issue could become "a major diplomatic incident if the Ugandans do not back down". The bill proposes the death penalty for people who have gay sex with minors, disabled people, or while infected with HIV, along with repeat offenders.
Others convicted of homosexual sex will face life imprisonment, up from the current 14 year sentence. Since it was tabled by Mr Bahati as a private members bill, senior Ugandan politicians have been seen distancing themselves from it after countries such as the UK and US urged against it. UK prime minister Gordon Brown has criticised it, while US president Barack Obama said it was "odious".
Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni said several months ago that Uganda had to consider its foreign interests and Mr Bahati himself conceded that he would consider amending some parts of the bill. Ugandan government officials have suggested it is unlikely to come before parliament before 2011 and observers say this may be a stalling tactic as the country is due to go to the polls in the next year.
April 22 2010 – Daily Monitor
Govt softens anti-homosexuality Bill
by Rodney Muhumuza
A Cabinet committee has recommended changes to Ndorwa West MP David Bahati’s anti-gay legislation that preclude the possibility of discarding it, Daily Monitor has learnt. But the report, which is yet to be discussed by Cabinet, indicts Mr Bahati for not applying the kind of sophistication that would have anticipated the international condemnation that came after the draft legislation was tabled in Parliament last year. The recommendations mean that the legislation may never be passed in its current shape, if at all, and that it may be long before it is discussed with seriousness.
“It is far from being a law,” a source on the committee said, requesting anonymity so as to preserve his credibility. “It is a [good] principle, but the approach of the mover has stigmatised his mission.” It was, however, suggested that some of the proposals in the draft law, such as the death penalty for some homosexual acts, may be disagreeable.
The 2009 Anti-Homosexuality Bill is currently before the Parliamentary and Legal Affairs Committee, which has not indicated when it would begin scrutinising it. In early 2010, as some foreign governments criticised Uganda over the proposed law, Cabinet established a committee whose report would guide it on the way forward.
Around that time, President Museveni told a meeting of National Resistance Movement officials to be cautious with legislation that had the potential to disrupt Uganda’s foreign policy. Local Government Minister Adolf Mwesige, who chaired the committee, yesterday said they completed their work about a month ago, but he could not say exactly when the report would be up for discussion.
“It will be [discussed] in a few weeks,” Mr Mwesige said, declining to offer details.
Daily Monitor, citing a report in the UK’s Guardian, yesterday reported that British authorities had started a process that could leave Mr Bahati banned from visiting the UK if his anti-gay legislation becomes law. Mr Bahati denies he is in a hate campaign, saying there is evidence of young boys being clandestinely recruited into gay life. His legislation proposes the death penalty for those found having sex with a minor or with a disabled person, as well as for gay people who infect their partners with HIV.
It also proposes life imprisonment for consenting homosexuals. Uganda’s penal law criminalises homosexuality.
May 8 2010 – Monitor
Cabinet committee rejects Bahati Bill
by Rodney Muhumuza
Kampala – A committee of Cabinet has made recommendations that could end Ndorwa West MP David Bahati‘s proposal to have a separate law punishing homosexuality in Uganda. The recommendations, which Saturday Monitor has seen, come close to dismissing Mr Bahati?s draft legislation. The committee, put together to advise the government after Mr Bahati’s draft legislation left Uganda condemned by sections of the international community, looked deep into the language, tone and relevance of the draft legislation, dissecting every clause to determine its usefulness.
It was not clear who wrote the draft legislation, the committee’s report says, noting that the document had technical defects in form and content. The result left the draft legislation almost bare, as nearly all of the clauses were found either redundant, repetitive of existing laws, or even useless. In fact, the committee found that only Clause 13 of the draft legislation, about the promotion of homosexuality, had some merit.
This appears to be the core of the (draft legislation) and should be upheld due to the fact that there was massive recruitment to entice people into homosexuality going on, especially among the youth, the report says. Seven ministers were originally named to the committee, but only three, as well as a representative of the Attorney General, attended the meeting that produced these recommendations. Dr Nsaba Buturo, the junior ethics minister, who has spoken fiercely against homosexuality, never attended this meeting. He has since complained to Local Government Minister Adolf Mwesigye, who chaired the committee, that the report did not reflect his views.
In response, Mr Mwesigye has accused Dr Buturo of being absent without reason, according to documents obtained by Saturday Monitor. The review of Mr Bahati’s draft legislation, called the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, was started after President Museveni told members of the ruling National Resistance Movement that anti-gay efforts at home were disrupting Uganda’s foreign policy. Mr Museveni’s comments came in the wake of growing concern in some international circles that the draft legislation was draconian. At the time, Mr Museveni said he had received a lengthy phone call from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over the matter. US President Barack Obama reportedly said the proposed law was odious, while Sweden threatened to cut aid to Uganda if the law was introduced.
Mr Bahati denied being in a hate campaign, but his critics said he lacked evidence to back claims that foreign gays were clandestinely recruiting young boys in Uganda.Ironically, while the committee accepted this as fact, they still found the tenets of his draft law weak. The offence of aggravated homosexuality, for example, needs to be harmonised with the existing penalties in the existing laws, the report says. In his draft law, Mr Bahati proposed a new felony called aggravated homosexuality, the phrase he used to describe homosexual acts involving minors or the disabled, as well as in sex acts between homosexuals who are HIV-positive. He also proposed life imprisonment for consenting homosexuals.The Penal Code Act already criminalises homosexuality.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill should be reviewed since some provisions of the Constitution were not followed in the process of drafting and that, therefore, it was illegally before Parliament, the report says, adding that some sections of the Penal Code Act could be amended to include some good provisions of the draft law. This kind of amendment, the committee’s report says, is the preferable option. Mr Bahati was not immediately available for comment. The draft law is currently before Parliament’s Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. Kajara MP Stephen Tashobya, who chairs the committee, has not said when he is likely to start discussion on it.
It was hoped, at least according to Dr Buturo, that the Cabinet committee would make certain amendments to the draft law. As it turned out, the committee critiqued Mr Bahati’s work so deeply that no amendments were proposed. Mr Mwesigye said on Thursday that he had no comment to make. Cabinet is yet to discuss the committee’s recommendations.
FARUG News Desk
Communications and Media
Freedom and Roam Uganda is a lesbian Organisation which was established in 2003 by a group of fully fledged lesbians who were constantly harassed, insulted and discriminated against by a misinformed society and who were touched by the plight of their sisters and brothers of the same sexual orientation
June 9, 2010 – Center for American Progress
The Fight for LGBT Rights in Uganda and Beyond
Uganda’s legislature has been considering virulently antigay legislation for the past year. One of the leading voices against the legislation is Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, a courageous Ugandan who has taken a stand for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people of his country at the risk of his own life and career. Senyonjo’s adamant defense of LGBT rights has won him many admirers, including fellow Anglican Bishop and American Progress Senior Fellow Gene Robinson, who is also no stranger to death threats and controversy. The openly gay Bishop Robinson called Bishop Senyonjo “one of my heroes” and “someone who I look to for great inspiration” during a conversation about the global struggle for LGBT rights held at the Center for American Progress this week.
Sally Steenland, CAP’s Senior Policy Advisor to the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative, introduced the event. Michael H. Posner, the assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor gave opening remarks and made it clear that the United States government believes “LGBT rights are human rights.”
Senyonjo painted a dire portrait of the brutally oppressed LGBT community in Uganda. LGBT people are routinely shunned by their family and friends. They lose their jobs, are kicked out of schools, and get chased out of their homes on a regular basis. If Uganda’s proposed law passes, they will also face a minimum of life imprisonment, as well as possible capital punishment, in addition to such harsh social persecution.
Senyonjo believes this intolerant, ignorant, and hateful lawmaking stems from misinformation. Many Ugandans believe that homosexuality is imported from the West, claimed Senyonjo. Ugandans have also been misinformed about the difference between homosexuality and pedophilia—the idea that LGBT people are pedophiles and vice versa has become a widely held misconception in the African nation. Senyonjo also decried the state of HIV-AIDS education in his country, saying that there has been a turn toward preaching abstinence and stigmatizing condom use. These factors have contributed to Uganda’s fall from its former position of being a leader in HIV-AIDS education and prevention, according to Senyonjo.
Many Ugandans also don’t know that homosexuality is not a choice but rather an inborn trait. Senyonjo recounted the story of a young Ugandan man who prayed and fasted extensively with the belief that this penance would turn him straight. When it didn’t work he contemplated suicide. Senjonyo said Uganda’s LGBT community needs to know that their sexuality isn’t a sin or a choice. “That’s how God created them,” he said, urging his country to “not mix prejudice with ignorance.”
Senyonjo and Robinson see a connection between the increasingly homophobic attitudes and legislation in Senyonjo’s nation and the American religious right’s intolerant message toward homosexuality. The misinformation, hatred, and violence cropping up in Uganda often can be traced to the far-right rhetoric spread by American missionaries working abroad.
“There are some religious groups coming from here, from the U.S., that come to preach a gospel of hatred to LGBT people,” said Bishop Senyonjo. Robinson concurred and drew a metaphor between those who disseminate homophobia in Africa and reckless campers who start wildfires that destroy buildings and homes. The damage done by this antigay rhetoric is all too real. Bishop Senyonjo even went so far as to call the situation in his country “a kind of genocide.”
We in the United States often only think about the struggle for LGBT rights within the context of our own borders. The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, for example, is strictly a national issue. We even tend to limit our conception of these battles to specific states—the fight over California’s Proposition 8, which banned gay couples from marrying, seems to be confined solely within that state’s borders (although the pending federal court case around Prop. 8 could change that). But Bishop Senyonjo’s story illustrates how this narrow perspective affects LGBT people around the globe. We should be mindful that opponents to LGBT equality at home are exporting their hateful strategies and rhetoric abroad. Pro-equality forces—including the U.S. government—have an obligation to combat these enemies of equality wherever they operate, and fight to make life better for all LGBT people.
June 24, 2010 – PinkNews
Ugandan Bishop speaks out against homophobia
by Christopher Brocklebank
Anglican Bishop Christopher Senyonjo has spoken out against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that is being proposed in his native Uganda. Bishop Senyonjo was speaking at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, at the end of a speaking tour of Ireland. Addressing the congregation, Bishop Senyonjo cited the Northern Irish Peace Process as an example of a population bringing "love where there is hate". He added, "we should follow the good example of Ireland where you have been successful in seeking and affecting reconciliation."
Regarding the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda, which would mean even the words "gay rights" would be forbidden and that failing to report a known LGBT person within 24 hours would constitute a crime, the Bishop said it would "criminalise LGBT people". Punishments for being gay could range from up to seven years in prison to life imprisonment or even the death penalty. He added, "By the grace of God, some people are speaking [out] against the Bill. . . President Obama described it as odious."
Bishop Senyonjo also said he would urge the people of Ireland to oppose the bill, adding, "[gay men and women] may be different. . . but we should live with differences. I have found that a lot of the prejudice against LGBT people comes from ignorance." This sermon concluded the Bishop’s visit, which was organised by Changing Attitude Ireland which works for the full affirmation of gay people in the churches of Ireland.
Read More Here
August 2, 2010 – The Huffington Post
The Kuchu Beehive
by Mark Canavera-humanitarian aid worker, activist, writer
How activists are using coalitions to promote LGBTI rights in Uganda.
The kuchu movement is abuzz in Uganda. Kuchu is a word (plural: kuchus), apparently of Swahili origin, that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) Ugandans have minted to describe their identities. "We do not use the word ‘queer,’" explains Frank Mugisha, chairman of Sexual Minorities Uganda, an umbrella entity that brings together LGBTI organizations for advocacy purposes. "We’ve got our own word that encompasses the whole idea: kuchu."
Despite a penal code that criminalizes homosexual acts with penalties of upwards of 10 years of imprisonment, Uganda has witnessed an astounding flowering of kuchu organizations in recent years. Each cluster is structured differently: some exist primarily as online discussion fora while others run legal aid clinics or provide health services to sexual minorities. Some meet in bars and members’ living rooms while others maintain offices with laptop computers and Wi-Fi internet connections. Taken together, they represent a richly diverse community and a potent symbol of how far Uganda’s LGBTI movement has come in a short time period. "We are out talking," says Kasha Jacqueline, the executive director of Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG), an association dedicated to empowering lesbian women. Some activists note that one reason that kuchus are able to speak out is that Ugandan law allows only for the arrest of homosexual acts, not for LGBTI identities. "We want to talk about these things. It’s our resilience that is making all of this happen."
Uganda’s embryonic LGBTI movement could hardly have been prepared, however, for the onslaught of activity that would result from the introduction of an Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Ugandan Parliament last year. "The last six months have been chaotic," writes Val Kalende, the manager of programs and communications for FARUG, in an e-mail, further explaining that most organizations were forced to slow down their other day-to-day activities to focus on fighting the bill. The proposed bill calls for the death penalty for cases of the newly concocted crime of "aggravated homosexuality," criminalizes advocacy on behalf of gay people, and would require third parties (including family members) to report known homosexuals within twenty-hour hours.
The bill has garnered significant media attention in the West both for its connections to the American religious right (the subject of at least two documentaries) and the threat of donor governments to withdraw their aid to Uganda if the bill were to pass. Most American evangelical churches have distanced themselves from a bill that the Swedish government called "appalling" and President Obama deemed "odious," but others like Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Nevada remain steadfast supporters of those who promote the bill.
Whatever else it did, the bill provided the nebulous LGBTI movement in Uganda with a common enemy, and the myriad organizations that were just beginning to take shape recognized the need to come together to kill the bill. "When the bill was introduced, there was a need to reach out to other human rights groups, not to take a back seat" says Mugisha. Kalende explains that, "Everyone got on the telephone and called the head of an organization they knew asking them to join the coalition and sign our first press statement condemning the bill. In just a week, we had registered 21 organizations, including those we thought would never support LGBT rights." Thus was born the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, or simply, "the Coalition." In addition to fighting the bill, the Coalition aims to strengthen the capacity of LGBTI organizations throughout the country.
Today, the Coalition boasts 32 confirmed members, says Coalition coordinator Adrian Jjuuko. Member organizations of the Coalition run the gamut, including HIV/AIDS-focused organizations, labor associations, women’s rights non-profits, and refugee and prisoner rights groups. Some women’s rights groups turned a cold shoulder to the invitation to join the Coalition, but Kasha stresses the importance of continuing to extend a welcoming hand. "We should continue building links even if we are not very welcome there," says Jacqueline. "We are women, and we should not only talk about issues that concern only lesbians but also other women. They need to know that we feel the pain." Mugisha notes that two years ago, no other civil society organizations were willing to join hands with the LGBTI movement, so he sees the creation of this Coalition as a major achievement in and of itself.
Swarming together as a Coalition has clear advantages, say activists. "Working with these networks has given us a lot more power as a movement," says Mugisha. "We speak out as one, but we are able to advocate in a number of ways. We can pursue quiet advocacy to with a number of different policymakers and organizations through a variety of channels." Jjuuko explains that the Coalition has also helped to broaden the base of support for the LGBTI movement. He explains, "Since other organizations have joined forces with this movement, others do not say, ‘Oh it is just the LGBTI organizations making noise again.’" Jacqueline adds that working in a coalition gives the movement "a bigger space for our struggle."
August 19, 2010 – Freedom and Roam Uganda
First Openly Gay Bar Opens in Kampala
I still get excited thinking about it. Sappho Islands. Yes, the great lesbian Greek poet has come to town. I last took a beer during the October of 2008. This is probably when I last went out to a bar to drink. Most of my friends are socialites and I respect that. Being a Born-Again Christian has made me look at my life differently but I am not the kind of conservative Christian who thinks what I do not do automatically becomes evil if other people are doing it. This is why I still hung out at bars with my friends if I have to. My reason for quitting beer was basically because I have never liked drinking. I don?t like the taste and I have never had a genuine reason to take alcohol.
The opening of Sappho Islands is to me a political statement. Looking how far we have come, I cannot ignore the fact that the Stonewall revolution in the U.S.A sparked off from a bar. When I first heard about Sappho Islands, I saw progress. I celebrated change. Sappho was a Greek poet whose poems talked about emotions and love between women. She lived on an Island called Lesbos and it is said this is where the word Lesbian came from. Multitudes of lesbians visit Lesbos Island every year in celebration of their identity. Sappho Islands, the bar, may not attract hundreds of lesbians from all over the world but the decision to name it after Sappho gives us a reason to celebrate our identity.
I have lived among LGBT communities for the past eight years and I know how much having a social life means to LGBT folks. I have learned from listening to people?s stories that sometimes anti-gay laws are not what LGBT persons are most concerned with. They are concerned about being able to meet people like themselves, laughing and forgetting their daily struggles even for a single time. I have been to LGBT social evenings and seen how folks do not want to go back home after the party is over. They value the only time they can be happy and have a good time.
It is a beautiful way to end 2010. Three cheers to Sappho Islands.
Posted by Val
FARUG News Desk – Communications and Media – Tel:+256(0)312-294-863 – Website
Freedom and Roam Uganda is a lesbian Organisation which was established in 2003 by a group of fully fledged lesbians who were constantly harassed, insulted and discriminated against by a misinformed society and who were touched by the plight of their sisters and brothers of the same sexual orientation.
October 20, 2010 – PinkNews
Ugandan newspaper publishes ‘list of gays’ and calls for executions
by Jessica Geen
A Ugandan newspaper has published the names, addresses and photographs of the country’s “top” gays and lesbians. Rolling Stone, which has no connection to the US magazine of the same name, had a banner across its front page which read “hang them”. The article, published earlier this month, claimed that the men and women were trying to “recruit one million innocent kids”. The weekly newspaper began publishing six weeks ago and its editor, Giles Muhame, defended the list and said authorities could use it to arrest gays and lesbians.
Human rights activist Julian Onziema told Associated Press that at least four people on the list had been attacked since it was published, while others are in hiding. Julian Pepe, 29, who works for Sexual Minorities Uganda, was named in the list. Although she is an out lesbian, her parents are supportive of her. She told CNN: “People have been attacked, we are having to relocate others, some are quitting their jobs because they are being verbally abused. It’s a total commotion.” The government’s media council has ordered Rolling Stone to cease publishing – but because of incomplete paperwork, rather than the article.
When the newspaper organises its paperwork, it will be free to continue publishing. The article was was published just five days before the one-year anniversary of the ‘kill gays’ bill, which received worldwide condemnation. The bill, introduced by politician David Bahati, called for the death penalty or lengthy prison sentences for gays and lesbians. It was shelved earlier this year.
October 21, 2010 – PinkNews
Rolling Stone condemns anti-gay Ugandan newspaper
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
US magazine Rolling Stone has condemned the Ugandan newspaper of the same name for calling for gays to be executed. The US title said it had demanded that the African publication cease using its name. Ugandan Rolling Stone, a new weekly newspaper, published a list of 100 gay men and lesbians with their photos and addresses. It called for them to be hanged and accused of them of “recruiting” children to homosexuality.
US Rolling Stone’s editors said the issue was “one of the most vile and hateful anti-gay screeds we have ever read”. They added: “Not only are we not affiliated in any way with the Ugandan paper, we have demanded they cease using our name as a title. But there is a larger issue at stake: Homosexuality is still a crime in much of Africa, often punishable by life in prison.”
Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda and a bill introduced in the country last year called for life imprisonment and even execution for gay men and lesbians. The current status of the bill is unclear. Reports said it had been quietly shelved, although other sources say it remains in the committee stage. Giles Muhame, the managing editor of Ugandan Rolling Stone, defended his story, saying it was his duty as a journalist to “expose the evil in our society”.
“Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda but nobody is taking action against these people,” he told the Guardian. “They are recruiting new members among our kids, and destroying the moral fabric of our country.” Human rights activist Julian Onziema told Associated Press yesterday that at least four people on the list had been attacked since it was published, while others are in hiding.
22 October 2010 – BBC
Attacks reported on Ugandans newspaper ‘outed’ as gay
The Rolling Stone says it will continue to publish the names of homosexuals Several people have been attacked in Uganda after a local newspaper published their names and photos, saying they were homosexual, an activist has told the BBC. Frank Mugisha said one woman was almost killed after her neighbours started throwing stones at her house. He said most of those whose names appeared in Uganda’s Rolling Stone paper had been harassed.
Last year, a local MP called for the death penalty for some homosexual acts. The proposed Anti-homosexuality Bill sparked an international outcry and a year later has not been formally debated by parliament. Homosexual acts are already illegal in Uganda and activists say the gay community still lives in fear. "We have got people who have been threatened to be thrown out of work, people who have been threatened by their own family members, who want to throw them out of their own houses," said Mr Mugisha of the Sexual Minorities Uganda.
In the past, the government has accused homosexual groups of using claims of harassment to seek attention and funding, but this was strongly denied by Mr Mugisha.
Giles Muhame, editor of the two-month-old Rolling Stone paper, denied that he had been inciting violence by publishing the names next to a headline which read "Hang them". He said he was urging the authorities to investigate and prosecute people "recruiting children to homosexuality", before executing anyone found guilty. He also said he was acting in the public interest, saying Ugandans did not know to what extent homsexuality was "ravaging the moral fabric of our nation", and he vowed to continue to publish the names and photographs of gay Ugandans.
It has so far identified 15 of the 100 names it said it would reveal. The BBC’s Joshua Mmali in Kampala says a newspaper that was barely known in a country with a poor reading culture, has now grabbed international headlines, while attracting wide condemnation from gay and human rights groups. Mr Mugisha said he had written to both the Ugandan Media Council and police asking them to take action against the Rolling Stone but had not had any response. The police said they had not received any formal complaints of any attacks.
22 October 2010 – United Nations OHCHR
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women concludes forty-seventh session
Committee Adopts Conclusions on the Periodic Reports of Burkina Faso, Czech Republic, Malta, Tunisia and Uganda as well as on an Exceptional Report by India
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women this morning concluded its forty-seventh session, adopting concluding observations and recommendations on the periodic reports of Burkina Faso, Czech Republic, Malta, Tunisia and Uganda, which it examined at this session, as well as concluding observations on an exceptional report submitted by India regarding the impact of the Gujarat massacres of 2002 on women. The Committee also adopted a general recommendation on the rights of older women and a general recommendation on Article 2 of the Convention.
The six countries whose reports were examined at the present session are among the 186 States parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. In ratifying the Convention, these States commit to submitting regular reports to the Committee on how they are implementing the Convention’s provisions. Following an examination of those reports, in the presence of delegations from the States parties, the Committee adopted, in private session, concluding observations and recommendations for each report, contained in the following documents: for Burkina Faso, CEDAW/C/BFA/CO/6; for the Czech Republic CEDAW/C/CZE/CO/5; for India CEDAW/C/IND/CO/SP.1; for Malta CEDAW/C/MLT/CO/4; for Tunisia CEDAW/C/TUN/CO/6; and for Uganda CEDAW/C/UGA/CO/7. These documents will be available on the Committee’s Web page here
In her closing statement, Zou Xiaoqiao, acting Chairperson of the Committee, said that during this session, the Committee had considered the reports of six States parties and had held informal meetings with entities of the United Nations System, national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Committee members had also attended several lunchtime briefings organized by non-governmental organizations, and they were very pleased by the high level of attendance of NGOs, which once again made a significant contribution to the work of the Committee. The Committee was thankful to those entities which had provided it with detailed information and encouraged them to deepen their advocacy for the promotion and protection of women’s human rights and the implementation of the Convention.
In addition, the Committee adopted a general recommendation on the rights of older women, a comprehensive interpretation of human rights and States parties’ obligations as they apply in the context of aging. The Committee said it was concerned about the multiple forms of discrimination experienced by older women on the grounds of age and sex which was often a result of unfair resource allocation, maltreatment, neglect and limited access to basic services. The Committee recognized the need for statistical data disaggregated by age and sex as a way to better assess the situation of older women. The Committee also recognized that older women were not a homogeneous group. They had a great diversity of experience, knowledge, ability and skills. Their economic and social situation, however, was dependent on a range of demographic, political, environmental, cultural, employment, individual and family factors. The general recommendation on older women and the recognition of their rights explored the relationship between all the articles of the Convention and ageing. It identified the multiple forms of discrimination that women faced as they aged; outlined the content of the obligations assumed by States as parties to the Convention, from the perspectives of ageing with dignity and older women’s rights; and, included policy recommendations to mainstream the responses to the concerns of older women into national strategies, development initiatives and positive action so that older women could participate fully without discrimination and on the basis of equality with men in the political , social, economic, cultural, civil and any other field in their society.
November 2010 – Newslink FARUG Uganda
Is American Money Behind Ugandan Tabloid Linking Gays AND Terrorism?
The Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone received world publicity for its “outing” campaign against lesbians and gays. This led to documented attacks against some of those named and legal action to stop the naming which secured a rare victory for local LGBT in a Ugandan court. It also led to calls for a way to be found for threatened people to obtain visas for the USA and Canada . Box Turtle Bulletin reported that the second edition of Rolling Stone published only 12 pages, about half the size of the two previous editions, with an almost complete lack of advertising (there are only two ads).
They suggest that this raises questions about where the funding is coming from and reported that in that second edition its Editor Giles Muhame wrote “I wish you knew who is behind us!! You would stop barking.” Adds Box Turtle Bulletin: One clue over who is [funding] the vigilante campaign can be found in some of the rhetoric published in this edition. For example, in the page-two article, we find: Homosexuality involves “fisting” where one puts a hand in the rectum and may end up destroying it, causing fatal injuries, inflammation and transmission of HIV. No wonder homosexuals usually seal the butts with tiny pillows — to save the shattered buttocks from pain if they were to sit on a wooden chair.
This passage contains striking parallels to the rhetoric of Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa, who was famously derided the world over for his “eat da poo-poo” appearance on the Current TV documentary “Missionaries of Hate.” The article also names an unnamed source saying that the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which provides for the death penalty for homosexuality under certain circumstances, will be passed once Uganda becomes “an oil producer.” This, too, echoes the argument that Ssempa put forward on Uganda’s state broadcaster UBC last December. Ssempa has been reported as receiving funding from a number of overseas evangelical Christian sources, although this is declining.
Box Turtle Bulletin also reports that another Ugandan newspaper which has been publishing anti-gay articles, The Onion, carried a article yesterday quoting Ssempa saying that “since he waged war on bum drillers, funds slipping into his church project have drastically dwindled.” Due to the exposure by a number of mostly American journalists of Ssempa’s role in the promotion of the proposed ‘kill the gays’ Anti-Homosexuality Bill, over the last year several of his American evangelical backers have dropped their support. However he is still backed by among others Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, Nev., and Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma.
As well as money, Warren Throckmorton reports that Canyon Ridge are helping Rev. Ssempa with his media statements. Now, in an at first glance bizzare twist the July bombings of a Kampala rugby club and an Ethiopian restaurant by the Somali Islamist group al-Shabab is being blamed on gays. Warren Throckmorton reports: The article has no author and cites unnamed sources, but claims that the July attacks in Kampala during the World Cup were plotted by “deadly homosexuals living abroad.” The article claims homosexuals are angry that the government won’t respect their rights. The article claims without awareness of the contradiction that the government sent troops to Somali to cover the real story.
The tale gets taller when the paper claims that homosexuals from the Middle East paid Somali terror group Al-Shabaab to bomb Kampala due to outrage over the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Finally, gays are blamed for funding the Lord’s Resistance Army who have committed atrocities in the North. This fits a well-established narrative, both in Uganda and elsewhere in Africa, of homosexuality being an “un-African” foreign import that only exists because of foreigners funding and promoting it. Box Turtle Bulletin also reports that another tabloid, The Onion, carried an article on Saturday an alleged “lesbian club” at Uganda’s prestigious Makerere University which said that “these Lesbos are said to be financed by NGOs from the Netherlands, USA, Switzerland, Sweden, and are very loaded, so they can do anything they want anywhere.”
Box Turtle Bulletin suggests that the latest round of anti-gay newspaper articles in Uganda, engaged in by much more widely circulated newspapers than Rolling Stone such as Red Pepper (though not the establishment papers such as The Monitor): Raises the ugly possibility of a circulation war breaking out with LGBT Ugandans bearing the brunt. We already noticed that Red Pepper’s Stanley Nduala, who had written many of that paper’s outing articles, drives a shiny Mercedes. Exposing gay people to mortal dangers and calling for their deaths is a proven pathway to great riches in Uganda for reporters and newspaper editors. And for Pentecostal preachers with ties to U.S. megachurches . That works just as well. And Throckmorton suggests a sinister reason for this stepped up anti-gay propaganda: This is another disturbing development in a series of such happenings.
I will have more to say about this Monday, but I spoke yesterday with the mover of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, Hon. David Bahati , and he confirmed to me that he expects the bill to be considered during the lifetime of this parliamentary session. It seems likely that the Rolling Stone’s campaign is designed to increase pressure on the Museveni government, facing a surprisingly strong opposition heading into upcoming elections, to move the Anti-Homosexuality Bill toward passage (e.g., read the Rolling Stone’s editorial). That editorial is headed “We’ll only support anti-gay President.”
08 December, 2010 – MSMGF
The Effects of a Two Year Sustained Anti-Gay Campaign on Health Seeking Behaviour of the Sexual Minorities in Uganda (2009-2010)
by Thomas Muyunga
Background: Uganda criminalises same sex relations, the penalty is known as sodomy. A series of activities in 2008 saw a renewal of anti-homosexuality drives including a conference sponsored by Exodus (USA), the authorship of the Anti-Gay Bill 2009 which calls for death penalty as a revision to the existing Sodomy Law and a revision of the Equal Opportunities Act, 2006 to deny sexual minorities any consideration and social protection. This trend has created an environment of fear, evictions from homes of suspected homosexuals and other acts of impunity. Policy-makers have been made into reluctant actors when it comes to planning that targets same sex practicing persons. Criminalisation is strengthened by the Constitution of Uganda, Section 140. Section 140 of the constitution of the republic of Uganda criminalizes "carnal knowledge against the order of nature" with maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Also, Section 141 prohibits "attempts at Carnal knowledge" with maximum penalty of 7 years’ imprisonment. Section 143, punishes acts of procurement of or attempts to procure acts of gross indecency" between men in public or private with up to 5 years imprisonment.
Findings: Most at risk populations’ Initiative-MARPI is a health service provider initiated in 2007 and using PEPFAR funds through a short term project that closed by March 2010 it reached out to Commercial sex-workers and Sexual Minorities. It was planned to reach over 250 LGBTI. However, by close of the project it had reached 500 LGBTI with targeted counselling, STI/STD/HIV testing and management services. A hotline was availed to LGBTI key leaders to share with LGBTI community and it benefitted 50 people by providing anonymous counselling and guidance (15 lesbians, 20TG and 15 gay men). Immediately after the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009, MARPI recorded lesser attendances by LGBTI which dwindled continuously from 10 attendances on average from 2008 -2009 per week to 3 per week in 2010.
The legislation in form of the Equal Opportunities Act, 2006 was revised in 2009 and sections were added to not allow sexual minorities to express any form of need due to their orientation. The Act is now coached in such a way as to prohibit any form of service provision and it promotes denial of full expression and enjoyment by sexual minorities.
Sexual Minority groups on the other hand have increased a vigilance that promotes anti-HIV/STDs since 2008 up to 2010. In 2008, 5 organisations were at the forefront in organising around expression and demand for respect and dignity of sexual minorities. In 2009, 6 others joined the numbers and these ones were more focused on; empowerment, development, health, psychosocial support, dialogue and tolerance. These organisations have initiated safe spaces in which there was HIV/STD testing, Information, education and Communication on safer lifestyles among sexual minorities. 800 LGBTI have been reached through these spaces.
The following organisations have taken a leading role in LGBTI matters:
1. Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) is increasingly involved in advocacy and driving conversation to reduce stigma and discrimination towards LGBTI.
2. Spectrum and GALA are involved in promoting income generating skills for LGBTI to reduce reliance on sex-work as a means of income. This has enabled them identify reproductive health needs and make referrals.
3. Eddoboozi Human Rights Defenders Network organises around fighting homophobia in Uganda.
4. SOGIAH-UGANDA promotes capacity building around sexuality, orientation, gender identity and Health as themes to explore in order to promote safer reproductive health. It is also packaged as an anti HIV strategy.
5. Empowered at dusk is an organisation that brings together members to lead productive lives in their community.
6. PAOTH is affirming transgender identity and health.
7. Stop abuse Kampala is promoting a reduction on reliance on drugs as stress management.
8. Makerere Health action group promotes health for members.
9. FARUG explores needs among lesbians and provides them with support.
10. Frank and Candy provides internet based health education/moderation of lgbti info link-list serve.
11. Youth on Rock Foundation (YRF) caters for improving income generating skills.
12. Queer Youth Uganda for promoting health seeking behaviour
13. Icebreakers Uganda for coming out counselling
Lessons Learnt: 24 outreach services that have been followed for 2 years were fully attended and these were opportunities for; meeting LGBTI leaders in Uganda, especially those who are from the areas nearer to Kampala; dialogue on LGBTI issues; testing of HIV; treatment for those who had ailments and; counselling/guidance. An average of 80 LGBTI persons attended in all 24 spaces. From morning up to late evening security precautions are taken not to attract un called for attention towards themselves and maintaining an HIV focused or Health focused space has enabled them to avoid being evicted.
All groups provide earlier briefing meetings in which item is emphasized that conduct that does not draw animosity is to be maintained. LGBTI managed to attend medical, laboratory and counselling services. 2 medical doctors, 3 counsellors, 4 laboratory technicians were employed and they provided unconditional quality services. In some cases were halls were hired for dialogue sessions they were turned into HIV Dialogue safe space with IEC materials and posters with messages targeting LGBTI. All participants were provided lubricants, dental dams, condoms, literature that is sexual minority oriented and T-shirts. Refreshments were non-alcoholic and the days were filled with health improving activities.
Conclusion: These self help groups have demonstrated a sensitivity to what works in smaller marginalised communities and using their environment have managed to avoid attracting animosity while at the same time they have been able to carry out interventions.
Recommendations: Involving LGBTI in designing interventions has helped counter the back lash from the two year sustained anti-gay campaigns. It will help improve overall HIV campaigns in Uganda.
View this article’s attachment here
December 12, 2010 – The Washington Post
Gays in Africa face growing persecution, activists say
by Sudarsan Raghavan, Washington Post Foreign Service
Kampala, Uganda – Persecution of gays is intensifying across Africa, fueled by fundamentalist preachers, intolerant governments and homophobic politicians. Gay people have been denied access to health care, detained, tortured and even killed, human rights activists and witnesses say. The growing tide of homophobia comes at a time when gays in Africa are expressing themselves more openly, prompting greater media attention and debates about homosexuality. The rapid growth of Islam and evangelical forms of Christianity, both espousing conservative views on family values and marriage, have persuaded many Africans that homosexuality should not be tolerated in their societies.
"It has never been harder for gays and lesbians on the continent," said Monica Mbaru, Africa coordinator for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, based in Cape Town. "Homophobia is on the rise."
Fearing for their lives, many activists are in hiding or have fled their countries. In Uganda, a bill introduced in parliament last year would impose the death penalty for repeated same-sex relations and life imprisonment for other homosexual acts. Local newspapers are outing gays, potentially inciting the public to attack them, activists say. A day after a newspaper article said that gays should be hanged, Sheila Hope Mugisha became a target. As the prominent gay rights activist neared her home, she said, boys from the neighborhood threw stones at the gate and chanted, "You are a homo." Mugisha ran inside and locked the door. She didn’t leave for several days.
14 December, 2010 – MSMGF
Rachel Maddow Vs Anti-Gay Ugandan MP David Bahati (VIDEO)
Access to full videos available at link below –
December 17, 2010 – UK Gay News
European Parliament Repeats Firm Opposition to Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill
Strasbourg – The European Parliament yesterday adopted an urgent resolution condemning the “Anti Homosexuality Bill” which has been under consideration in the Ugandan Parliament since September 2009. MEPs at this week’s plenary in Strasbourg repeated its opposition to a draft law that calls for fines, imprisonment and even the death penalty for Ugandan lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Uganda and abroad.
The Bill, introduced in the Ugandan Parliament by David Bahati MP, prescribes capital punishment in some cases, including engaging in sexual intercourse more than once with a person of the same sex. It also requires all parents, teachers and doctors to denounce LGBT children, students and patients to authorities. The European Parliament first condemned the Bill in a December 2009 urgency resolution. Even though the Bill has not passed yet, the European Parliament noted a sharp increase in severe threats and violence against LGBT people in Uganda, including calls for violence and killings of people presumed to be homosexual.
The resolution further calls on other European Institutions to keep sending strong messages to the government and parliament in Kampala. “This is the only right message to send,” declared Michael Cashman MEP, co-president of the all- party ‘Intergroup’ on LGBT Rights, declared. “Criminalising people’s sexual orientation or gender identity is morally untenable, and contradicts everything the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stands for.” He added that the Ugandan authorities must “absolutely stop” the adoption of this Bill.
Raül Romeva i Rueda MEP, a vice-president of the Intergroup added: “The European Parliament is united against this draconian piece of legislation: left, right, centre, everyone agrees that LGBT people must not be criminalised. “Homosexuality is as African as it is Asian, American, European and Oceanian: it is part of our humanity,” he pointed out. “I hope Ugandans will remember this.”
Last week, Mr. Bahati was banned from attending a meeting in Washington DC. But while he was in USA he appeared on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show. Video of this encounter with the openly gay Ms. Maddow is available online. Part 1 (11 minutes). Part 2 (8 minutes). Part 3 (6 minutes). Also, “The Slippery Slope” (5 minutes 30 seconds), a follow-up interview wilt Jeff Sharlet, author of C Street and The Family.
¦ The European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights is to organise a hearing on LGBT rights across the world during the first half of 2011
December 17, 2010 – Tetu Magazine
French to English translation
Auf, an outed gay Ugandan refugee in France:"My family does not care about my fate"
by Louis Maury
Outed by the Ugandan press, saved from death by miracle, the young hero is the subject of a documentary film on homophobia broadcast on PinkTV. (Paris) The documentary film ‘Uganda, on Behalf of God‘, broadcast tonight on PinkTV, received the 2010 prize for best documentary in the context of Cherie Cherie, the LGBT film festival in Paris. It follows Auf, the involuntary hero of this film. This baker’s life was destroyed when he was outed by a local tabloid Red Pepper in Kampala in 2009.
He lost his job, his house, and, miraculously, escaped certain or even probable death by fleeing to France. Auf learn French and now tries to bring together all people of goodwill to fight against homophobic laws that could be enacted soon in his country. Directed by Dominique Memin, ‘Uganda, in the Name of God’, is a documentary ‘punch. His film has no frills, no pathos, is moving and chilling. Meet the survivor activist.
TÊTU: Why did you agree to be filmed in this documentary when you are the subject of repeated attacks from the Ugandan press that outed you?
Auf: Actually, I was already in the media for activism. But I really wanted to know why I was a victim and who wanted me at this point! My desire was to share my experience and understanding to others like me to know that they were not alone.
How do you explain the homophobia that is currently ravaging Uganda?
Auf: I think people lack information about sexuality. Leaders, pastors, priests, imams and feed them false information and this leads to violence.
You are still Muslim?
Auf: Yes and believer.
Today, you live in France …
Auf: I am entitled to remain in France for ten years. I seek work and I am learning French. I want to support and develop the association AGLOAH (African Gay and Lesbian Association Against Homophobia). France is the country of human rights. I want to continue my fight to save by other gays. I hope to mobilize people around the world in my fight. And who knows, one day return to Uganda.
Are you still in touch with your family?
Auf: My friends and my family have been harassed by questions about how they could live with a gay and why I became gay. They do not care about my fate. Only my grandmother protected me at times.
‘Uganda, on behalf of God’, Dominic Memin, Friday, December 17, at 22 o’clock on PinkTV.
December 27th, 2010 – VelvetPark
Velvetpark’s Official Top 25 Significant Queer Women of 2010
Velvetpark’s year end round up of the most significant queer women of 2010 had our editors researching and wracking our brains for the last month. In selecting the Official Top 25 we decided to hone our criteria down to women who made a significant contribution to lesbian/dyke/trans/queer visibility in the areas of arts, culture and activism, or who made a critical impact on our social equality—this year. We also decided not to include any celebrities, even though we owe a debt of gratitude to all those who have used their visibility to advance our equal rights. Instead we chose to honor the unsung heroes or individuals who came out of nowhere and gained national attention in the name of queer causes. As with last year’s list, our numbering is not meant to suggest a ranking system; each of the contributions made by our honorees has enriched our lives and our community.
1. Braveheart – Kasha Jacqueline, Ugandan Lesbian Activist, Founder of FARUG
Kasha Jacqueline is a self-proclaimed feminist, lesbian and Ugandan, words that could get her life imprisonment or even killed in her own country. In the face of Uganda’s Kill The Gays Bill (supported and inspired by right-wing United States Congressmen), now pending in the Ugandan Parliament, Kasha Jacqueline founded “Freedom and Roam Uganda” (FARUG), the only local organization fully dedicated to LBTI rights. FARUG strives for the attainment of full equal rights and the eradication of all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation. This year Jacqueline was invited to speak at the 2010 Oslo Freedom Forum. The OFF brings together world leaders, heads of state, and Nobel Peace Prize recipients.
Jacqueline has begun telling her stories as an out lesbian in Uganda and finding like minded Ugandans who have organized to fight anti-queer violence, including pro-equality ministers and churches. Jacqueline faces an arduous struggle but remains one of the very few voices at the core of this humanitarian crisis in Uganda being heard by the international community.