Gay Uganda News & Reports 2011 Jan-Apr

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

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

1 Uganda media can’t publish identities of homosexuals 1/11

2 Ugandan Who Spoke Up for Gays Is Beaten to Death 1/11

3 Ugandan gay rights activist bludgeoned to death 1/11

4 Uganda: Promptly Investigate Killing of Prominent LGBT Activist 1/11

5 Murder of Gay Rights Activist David Kato: The World Reacts 1/11

6 Statement by President Obama on the Murder of David Kato 1/11

7 Scuffles at funeral of Uganda gay activist 1/11

8 Gay Ugandan’s murder blamed on American evangelicals 2/11

9 New Film from Uganda: Call Me Kuchi 2/11

10 BBC Interview–Julian Onziema 2/11

11 Gay Rights Activists Condemn “Spiritual War” in Uganda 2/11

12 Scott Mills: ‘Gay hatred is everywhere in Uganda’ 2/11

12a BBC Documentary: World’s Worst Place to Be Gay? 2/11

13 WikiLeaks cables reveal Ugandan homophobia 2/11

13a Examining Life in safe spaces 2/11

14 Anti-Homosexuality Bill May Not Come Up For A Vote 3/11

14a Challenging the Religious Fundamentalism Behind Anti-Homo Bill of 2009 3/11

15 Rights Group Accuses Ugandan Police of Torture and Killings 3/11

16 David Kato Murder Case Moved to the Uganda High Court 3/11

17 Why Did I Have To Be Born Gay In Africa? 3/11

18 Anti-Gay Bill May Be Dead But Effects Are Still Alive 4/11

19 University Students Lobby Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 4/11

20 Religious Leaders Demand Debate on Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 4/11

21 Analysis of Uganda’s HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Bill 4/11

22 Love, Against Homophobia 4/11

23 Cabinet wants gays Bill dropped 4/11

24 Ugandan LGBTs Paid to Back Antigay Bill 4/11

January 4, 2011 – CNN

Uganda media can’t publish identities of homosexuals, high court says

by Tom Walsh, For CNN
Kampala, Uganda (CNN) — The Ugandan high court has banned all media outlets in the country from publishing lists identifying people they claim are gay after advocacy groups filed a lawsuit. The order after Rolling Stone — a local tabloid which has no relation to the iconic U.S. music magazine — published lists of people it said were gay, urging readers to report them to police.

Monday’s ruling applies to all media outlets in Uganda, not just the tabloid. The court awarded damages of 1.5 million Ugandan shillings ($650) to the three groups that brought the case to court. Kasha Jacqueline with Freedom and Roam Uganda, a lesbian support organization, called the ruling "overwhelming," saying it has brought the country’s gay community together in solidarity.

Giles Muhame, the tabloid’s managing editor, said he was "surprised" by the ruling, saying the court has set a "dangerous precedent" that "promotes homosexuality." Muhame has vowed to continue publishing lists of homosexuals in Uganda, despite the legal consequences.

The next issue of Rolling Stone is due on news stands Saturday. In November, the tabloid listed 100 of what it called the country’s top gays and lesbians, with photos and addresses alongside a yellow banner reading "hang them." The next month, the paper listed 10 more people it claimed were gay. The list included addresses and alleged intimate details about the anatomy of people on it.

Muhame has said homosexuality is more dangerous than smoking. Gay rights groups in Uganda say at least four people have been attacked since then.

January 27, 2011 – The New York Times

Ugandan Who Spoke Up for Gays Is Beaten to Death
– David Kato knew he was a marked man

by Jeffery Gettleman
Nairobi, Kenya – As the most outspoken gay rights advocate in Uganda, a country where homophobia is so severe that Parliament is considering a bill to execute gay people, Mr. Kato had received a stream of death threats, his friends said. A few months ago, a Ugandan newspaper ran an antigay diatribe with Mr. Kato’s picture on the front page under a banner urging, “Hang Them.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Kato was beaten to death with a hammer in his rough-and-tumble neighborhood. Police officials were quick to chalk up the motive to robbery, but members of the small and increasingly besieged gay community in Uganda suspect otherwise.

“David’s death is a result of the hatred planted in Uganda by U.S. evangelicals in 2009,” Val Kalende, the chairwoman of one of Uganda’s gay rights groups, said in a statement. “The Ugandan government and the so-called U.S. evangelicals must take responsibility for David’s blood.” Ms. Kalende was referring to visits in March 2009 by a group of American evangelicals, who held rallies and workshops in Uganda discussing how to turn gay people straight, how gay men sodomized teenage boys and how “the gay movement is an evil institution” intended to “defeat the marriage-based society.”

The Americans involved said they had no intention of stoking a violent reaction. But the antigay bill was drafted shortly thereafter. Some of the Ugandan politicians and preachers who wrote it had attended those sessions and said that they had discussed the legislation with the Americans.

After growing international pressure and threats from a few European countries to cut assistance — Uganda relies on hundreds of millions of dollars of aid — Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, indicated that the bill would be scrapped. But more than a year later, that has not happened, and the legislation remains a simmering issue in Parliament. Some political analysts say the bill could be passed in the coming months, after a general election in February that is expected to return Mr. Museveni, who has been in office for 25 years, to power. On Thursday, Don Schmierer, one of the American evangelicals who visited Uganda in 2009, said Mr. Kato’s death was “horrible.”

“Naturally, I don’t want anyone killed, but I don’t feel I had anything to do with that,” said Mr. Schmierer, who added that in Uganda he had focused on parenting skills. He also said that he had been a target of threats himself, recently receiving more than 600 messages of hate mail related to his visit. “I spoke to help people,” he said, “and I’m getting bludgeoned from one end to the other.”

Many Africans view homosexuality as an immoral Western import, and the continent is full of harsh homophobic laws. In northern Nigeria, gay men can face death by stoning. In Kenya, which is considered one of the more Westernized nations in Africa, gay people can be sentenced to years in prison. But Uganda seems to be on the front lines of this battle. Conservative Christian groups that espouse antigay beliefs have made great headway in this country and wield considerable influence. Uganda’s minister of ethics and integrity, James Nsaba Buturo, who describes himself as a devout Christian, has said, “Homosexuals can forget about human rights.”

Entire Article

January 27, 2011 – CNN

Ugandan gay rights activist bludgeoned to death

by Tom Walsh
Kampala, Uganda (CNN) — A Ugandan gay rights activist whose name was published on a list of the nation’s "top homosexuals" was bludgeoned to death in his home near the capital, his lawyer said Thursday. A neighbor found David Kato dead and notified authorities, according to the lawyer, John Onyango. Kato’s money and some clothes were missing after the attack, Onyango said. It was unclear whether Kato’s killing was linked to his gay rights activism or a front-page story in a Ugandan tabloid that reignited anti-gay sentiments late
last year.

The story included a list of "top 100 homosexuals" with their photos, addresses and a banner with the words "Hang Them." Kato’s name and picture were on the list. Arrest warrants have been issued for two suspects: a taxi driver found near Kato’s house and an ex-convict who was staying with Kato before the killing, Onyango said. Kato told CNN last year that he feared for his life after the list was released. His lawyer said he had informed authorities in Mukono, the town where he lived, of his fears.

"The villagers want to set my house ablaze," he told CNN at the time. "They want to burn my house. … (They say,) ‘Can you go away before my house is burned?’" Authorities in the Mukono criminal investigations department declined to comment pending further investigation. Activists decried the attack, and urged authorities in the east African nation to investigate the killing. They called on the government to protect them from violence, and act on threats and hostility toward them. "David Kato’s death is a tragic loss to the human rights community. David had faced the increased threats to Ugandan LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people bravely and will be sorely missed," said Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch.

U.S. President Barack Obama said he was saddened by the death of Kato, whom he called a "powerful advocate for fairness and freedom."

"At home and around the world, LGBT persons continue to be subjected to unconscionable bullying, discrimination, and hate," the president said in a written statement. "In the weeks preceding David Kato’s murder in Uganda, five members of the LGBT community in Honduras were also murdered. It is essential that the governments of Uganda and Honduras investigate these killings and hold the perpetrators accountable."

Earlier this year, Kato and two activists won a case against the magazine that published the list. The court ruled that media in Uganda are barred from releasing details of known or potential homosexuals in the country. The editor of the Rolling Stone, the tabloid that published the list, denounced the attacks and said he sympathized with the victim’s family. "When we called for hanging of gay people, we meant … after they have gone through the legal process," said Giles Muhame. "I did not call for them to be killed in cold blood like he was."

The Rolling Stone tabloid is not affiliated with the iconic U.S. music magazine by the same name. Homosexuality is illegal in most countries in Africa, where sodomy laws were introduced during colonialism. In Uganda, homosexual acts are punishable by 14 years to life in prison, according to rights activists. The U.S. Mission in Kampala, Uganda, said, "David’s courageous devotion to promoting the universal human rights of members of Uganda’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community improved the lives of minority populations in Uganda and throughout Africa, and his selfless dedication to defending human rights and speaking out against injustice served as inspiration to human rights defenders around the world."

January 27, 2011 – Human Rights Watch

Uganda: Promptly Investigate Killing of Prominent LGBT Activist
– David Kato Was Fearless Voice for Human Rights

by Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch
(Kampala) -­ Police in Uganda should urgently and impartially investigate the killing of the prominent human rights activist David Kato, Human Rights Watch said today. Kato had dedicated his life to fighting for the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexual, and transgender persons (LGBT) in Uganda, facing threats and risks to his personal safety.

The government should ensure that members of Uganda’s LGBT community have adequate protection from violence and take prompt action against all threats or hate speech likely to incite violence, discrimination, or hostility toward them, Human Rights Watch said. "David Kato’s death is a tragic loss to the human rights community," said Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. "David had faced the increased threats to Ugandan LGBT people bravely and will be sorely missed."

Witnesses told police that a man entered Kato’s home in Mukono at around 1 p.m. on January 26, 2011, hit him twice in the head and departed in a vehicle. Kato died on his way to Kawolo hospital. Police told Kato’s lawyer that they had the registration number of the vehicle and were looking for it.

Kato was the advocacy officer for the organization Sexual Minorities Uganda. He had been a leading voice in the fight against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which has been before Uganda’s parliament since October 15, 2009. While homosexual sex is already illegal in Uganda, the proposed law would criminalize all homosexuality, making it punishable by a fine and life imprisonment. "Repeat offenders" and those who are HIV positive would be subject to the death penalty. The bill would also oblige anyone with knowledge of someone who is or might be a homosexual to report that person to the police within 24 hours.

The bill has been widely condemned internationally, including by US President Barack Obama, who called the bill "odious." Kato had said the bill was "profoundly undemocratic and un-African." The fight against the bill has also pushed Ugandan activists to the fore, raising concern for their privacy and safety. These deepened in late 2010 when a local tabloid called Rolling Stone, unconnected to the US magazine, published pictures, names, and residence locations of some members of the LGBT community, along with a headline saying, "Hang Them." Kato’s photo appeared on the cover, and inside another photo appeared with his name.

Three activists, including Kato, eventually sued the publication and won on January 3. The judge ruled that the publication had violated their constitutional rights to privacy and ordered compensation. He also issued an injunction prohibiting any further publication of the identities and home locations of individuals labeled homosexuals.

"The Anti-Homosexuality bill has already generated hatred before it has even been enacted and it should immediately be withdrawn by its author," Burnett said. "President Yoweri Museveni should categorically reject the hate that lies behind this bill, and instead encourage tolerance of divergent views of sexuality and protect vulnerable minorities."

January 27, 2011 – UK Gay News

Murder of Ugandan Gay Rights Activist David Kato: The World Reacts

Brussels – There was immediate reaction this morning by parliamentarians at the European Parliament, including its president, to the news this morning that leading Ugandan gay rights activist had been murdered in Kampala yesterday. And there has been more reaction across the world, from Moscow to New York. “We are deeply saddened by the murder of David Kato Kisule, yesterday 26 January in Kampala, Uganda,” a group of leading parliamentarians said in a joint statement by the chair of the Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, the co-president of the Africa Caribbean Pacific Joint Parliamentary Assembly, and the co-presidents of the Parliament’s all-party ‘Intergroup on LGBT Rights.

“David was a lifelong human rights defender; he will be remembered for his outstandingly brave defence of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people’s human rights in Uganda. Our condolences go to David’s family and friends. As Sexual Minorities Uganda’s Advocacy Officer, David had come to the European Parliament on several occasions to expose the plight of LGBT people in Uganda, notably in the wake of David Bahati’s ‘Anti-Homosexuality Bill’ (sic).

“Following the publication of lists of presumed homosexual Ugandans by tabloid Rolling Stone [the Ugandan tabloid has no connection with the American publication of the same name]. and subsequent attacks on LGBT activists, David bravely faced the Rolling Stone editors in a lawsuit, obtaining the condemnation of the paper and a strong High Court judgement on the universal right to life and dignity. The European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights had previously expressed great alarm at the situation for LGBT people in Uganda, and strongly condemned the hateful press in late 2010. The Subcommittee had urged the EU Delegation in Kampala to ensure David’s safety upon his return from an official visit to the European Parliament.

“In December 2009 and December 2010, the European Parliament also adopted strong resolutions urging Uganda to reconsider hateful draft legislation, and decriminalise homosexuality entirely. It called on EU institutions and Member States to apply all possible pressure on Uganda to decriminalise homosexuality.”

Speaking for the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, it chair, Heidi Hautala MEP, said: “The Subcommittee on Human Rights was adamant that LGBT human rights defenders in Uganda face grave threats for their lives and dignity. I call on the European External Action Service and Member States in Kampala to provide their unconditional assistance to LGBT human rights defenders, and pressure their Ugandan counterparts to decriminalise homosexuality.”

And for the LGBT Intergroup, co-presidents Michael Cashman MEP and Ulrike Lunacek MEP said in a joint statement: “ “David was a brave and courageous man who stood as a giant, together with others, against the homophobes in government, parliament, in the Church and in the media that preached for hatred and persecution of homosexuals. “His death is an awful and tragic loss. No words are strong enough for us to urge the Ugandan government to investigate this assassination, and urge the Ugandan parliament to fully decriminalise homosexuality.”

Jerzy Buzek MEP, the President of the European Parliament, said that David Kato was a man that fought for the rights of people to live freely regardless of their sexual orientation in Uganda. “David Kato suffered a violent death and I send my condolences to his family. I call for the perpetrators of this crime to be brought to justice. He was a remarkable human rights defender. I regret that Uganda is a country where homosexuality is still considered a criminal act. David Kato’s battle was to improve tolerance and encourage tolerance of divergent views of sexuality and defend the rights for lesbians, gays, bisexual, and transgender persons and protect vulnerable minorities.

“The European Parliament has adopted two resolutions on the anti-homosexual draft legislation in Uganda. I underline that sexual orientation is a matter falling within the remit of the individual right to privacy in the framework of universal human rights and fundamental freedoms. I repeat the European Parliament’s call on the Ugandan authorities not to approve this bill and to review their laws so as to decriminalise homosexuality. I also remind the Ugandan Government of its obligations under international law and under the Cotonou Agreement, which calls for universal human rights to be respected.”

In London, Peter Tatchell of Outrage! saluted David Kato for his braved contribution to LGBT human rights. “We, the members of OutRage! in London, express our sincere condolences to Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and to the Ugandan LGBTI community concerning the tragic, brutal murder of David Kato. We salute David and his immense, brave contribution to LGBTI human rights in Uganda. “He was an inspiring campaigner, of long and great commitment. He will live on in our memories, and in the rights and equalities that LGBTI Ugandans will eventually win thanks to the many years of tireless campaigning by him and others.

“We express our admiration and appreciation to all the members of SMUG who are battling for LGBTI freedom in conditions of great adversity and danger. Their courage and tenacity is awesome. Bravo!”

Also in London, Amnesty International called on the Ugandan government to immediately ensure a credible and impartial investigation into the murder.

“Amnesty International is appalled by the shocking murder of gay rights activist David Kato yesterday,” said Michelle Kagari, AI’s deputy director for Africa.

“It is deeply worrying that the Ugandan government has been so conspicuously silent about discriminatory rhetoric against LGBTI people in Uganda. Now more than ever is the time for the authorities to reassure Ugandans that it will protect them against threats and violence regardless of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Any persons suspected of involvement in the murder must be brought to justice in a fair trial which complies with international standards,” she added.

Read article

January 27, 2011 – African Activist

Statement by President Obama on the Murder of David Kato

I am deeply saddened to learn of the murder of David Kato. In Uganda, David showed tremendous courage in speaking out against hate. He was a powerful advocate for fairness and freedom. The United States mourns his murder, and we recommit ourselves to David’s work.

At home and around the world, LGBT persons continue to be subjected to unconscionable bullying, discrimination, and hate. In the weeks preceding David Kato’s murder in Uganda, five members of the LGBT community in Honduras were also murdered. It is essential that the Governments of Uganda and Honduras investigate these killings and hold the perpetrators accountable.

LGBT rights are not special rights; they are human rights. My Administration will continue to strongly support human rights and assistance work on behalf of LGBT persons abroad. We do this because we recognize the threat faced by leaders like David Kato, and we share their commitment to advancing freedom, fairness, and equality for all.

January 28, 2011 – Reuters

Scuffles at funeral of Uganda gay activist

by Justin Dralaze
Mukono (Reuters) – Scuffles broke out between locals and friends of a murdered Ugandan gay activist at his funeral on Friday after the pastor conducting the service berated gay people and villagers refused to bury the coffin.
David Kato was beaten to death with a hammer on Wednesday, police said. His photo was printed on the cover of a newspaper last October that called for gays to be executed under a headline that read: "Hang them". Ugandan police say preliminary investigations point to Kato being killed during a robbery but human rights activists suspect his killing was linked to his sexuality.

The murder sparked worldwide condemnation and became one of the top 10 topics on the social media website Twitter on Thursday. U.S. President Barack Obama issued a statement, which was read out at the funeral, calling Kato a "powerful advocate for fairness and freedom". During the funeral — which was attended by about 300 people, including about 100 members of the country’s gay community — the pastor lashed out at homosexuality, provoking a strong reaction from friends of Kato.

"The world has gone crazy," the pastor told the congregation through a microphone. "People are turning away from the scriptures. They should turn back, they should abandon what they are doing. You cannot start admiring a fellow man." Gay activists, wearing T-shirts featuring Kato’s face with sleeves coloured with the gay pride flag, then stormed the pulpit and grabbed the microphone. "It is ungodly," the pastor shouted, before being blocked from sight. "ONLY GOD CAN JUDGE US"

An unidentified female activist then began to shout from the pulpit. "Who are you to judge others?" she shouted. "We have not come to fight. You are not the judge of us. As long as he’s gone to God his creator, who are we to judge Kato?" Locals intervened on the side of the pastor and scuffles broke out before he was taken away to Kato’s father’s house to calm the situation.

Villagers then refused to bury the body at which point a group of Kato’s friends, most of whom were gay, carried his coffin to the grave and buried it themselves. Uganda’s anti-gay movement first made international headlines in October 2009 when a bill was tabled in the country’s parliament proposing the death penalty for homosexuals who are "repeat offenders". The bill was quietly postponed under international pressure, but rights groups fear it may pass after a February presidential election that President Yoweri Museveni is expected to win.

"I’m very upset," Julian Pepe, gay rights activist and a friend of Kato’s who attended the funeral, told Reuters, her voice breaking with emotion. "After we had read statements from everybody, including Obama, after all the nice things friends said about David, that this man could stand up and throw dirt at someone who should be resting in peace. It’s just disgusting."

February 01, 2011 – Mshale

Gay Ugandan’s murder blamed on American evangelicals

Although the murder of Ugandan gay rights advocate David Kato and the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, AZ, occurred 9,000 miles apart, there are many who believe that American hate speech is to blame for both crimes. In Uganda, Kato ‘s death is being called tthe direct result of the hateful words of American evangelicals who have publicly fought against homosexuality and homosexual rights.

The American conservatives accused of making inflammatory remarks in the months leading up to the Tucson massacre seem to have successfully rebuffed the allegation that they bear any responsibility for that crime. They’ve been helped by the mass media, which has focused heavily on the mental illness of shooter Jared Loughner. But the Americans accused of fueling the homophobia that many are blaming for Kato’s brutal murder—he was bludgeoned to death with a hammer— will have a much harder time convincing the world that they have nothing to do with his death.

Over the last few years, homophobia has soared hroughout Africa but especially in Uganda, where a controversial 2009 Anti-Homosexuality Bill proposed the death penalty for some homosexuals. The evidence suggests that American evangelicals were involved in the drafting of the bill. In March 2009, an American evangelist named Scott Lively led an anti-gay conference in Kampala. A few days later, David Bahati, a lawmaker and a close friend of Lively, introduced the bill in Parliament.

Rev. Kapya Kaoma, a Zambian priest who went undercover to the “viciously homophobic” conference to conduct research on the rise of homophobia in Africa, quoted one Ugandan attendee: “Dr. Scott told us about Brazil where, 10 years ago, homosexuality was unheard of. Today, it is the capital. There are people that have been against homosexuality that are having to leave because of the pressure and the threats that they are putting on them. That is how serious it is.”

To solidify their lies, evangelicals took advantage of Ugandans’ devotion to Christianity. They knew that Africa’s nearly 500 million Christians practice their religion with more zeal than the foreigners who introduced it to them. Such people are more likely to act on anything that supposedly comes from the Bible. This is evident in the words of another man whom Rev. Kaoma quoted after Lively’s speech: “The man of God told us about…a movement behind the promotion of homosexuality. … I got to know that there is a force behind homosexuality, which we need to tackle with force. He also told us that these people who are behind this…evil, they have all resources that they need…to spread this evil. We need to stand firm to fight homosexuality.”

It is true that for decades there have been laws in the Uganda forbidding homosexuality. But like many laws in African countries, these were never enforced. And as the existence of those laws obviously suggests, Ugandans have known all along that some of their fellow citizens are gay. It wasn’t until American evangelicals began flocking to the East African country that Ugandans began to see homosexuality as something new and evil. Human rights activists and governments from around the world pressured Uganda to shelf the anti-homosexuality bill, albeit temporarily. But the damage was already done. Politicians, journalists and other Ugandans became increasingly intolerant of people they had lived with peacefully for decades. Outing gays became the fashionable thing to do. A little-known tabloid called Rolling Stone gained international notoriety for publishing the front page headline "100 PICTURES OF UGANDA’S TOP HOMOS LEAK." Kato’s photo was among them.

“Hang them,” the paper urged.

Lively and other evangelicals vehemently deny that they have a hand in igniting homophobia in Uganda. They point to some media reports quoting Ugandan police saying that Kato’s death might have been a robbery gone awry. But it isn’t hard to find stories in the same media about the corruption and incompetence of the same police. The irony is that as Ugandans were getting ready to “stand firm to fight homosexuality,” Lively was moving from California to Massachusetts— a state where gay marriage is legal—to open a coffee shop. If it turns out that Kato was murdered because of his sexuality, nothing will wash his blood off Lively’s hands— not even fair-trade coffee from Uganda.

04 February, 2011 – Call Me Kuchi

New Film from Uganda: Call Me Kuchi

On the outskirts of Kampala, in a small signless office at the end of a dirt track, activist David Kato labors to stop the seemingly endless cycle of fear and persecution suffered by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Uganda, where newspapers routinely scream such headlines as: “Homo Terror! We Name and Shame Top Gays in the City,” and those convicted of homosexual conduct can be sentenced to life imprisonment. But David’s formidable task has just become ten times harder: a new “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” in Uganda’s Parliament proposes, among other things, a prison sentence for anyone who fails to turn in a gay family member, and religious leaders have started orchestrating ferocious anti-gay marches through the streets of Kampala.

As if that weren’t enough, the dreaded finally happens: photos of Stosh, an HIV+ transman, are plastered across a local tabloid, forcing him into hiding. In the midst of this chaos, it falls to the indignant and occasionally foulmouthed David, along with an idiosyncratic clan of fellow activists, to fight for Kampala’s kuchus in the press, in the churches, and in the courts. Shot in high definition on the Canon 5D Digital SLR, Call Me Kuchu gains unprecedented access to a tumultuous period in the life of four Ugandan kuchus, revealing the astounding courage and determination required not only to battle an oppressive government, but also to maintain religious conviction in the face of the contradicting rhetoric of a powerful national church.

In painting a rare portrait of an activist community and its antagonists, we ask: Can this small but spirited group bring about political and religious change in Uganda?

Link to Call Me Kuchi

February 8, 2011 – BBC

BBC Interview–Julian Onziema: life for gay rights activists always difficult

In Uganda, where homosexuality is illegal, life for the lesbian gay rights activist Julian Onziema has always been difficult. Now, since the murder in January of another gay rights campaigner, David Kato, she says it has become even more of a struggle. She is trying to cope with her grief as well as the fear that she could be the next victim. Julian was a close friend of David Kato, the man widely seen as the father of Uganda’s gay rights movement, and she spoke at his funeral last month.

At the beginning of this year David, Julian and another activist were successful in suing a Ugandan newspaper which had published a picture of him and 99 other homosexuals with the headline "Hang Them." But David’s victory was short lived, as he died a few weeks later after being brutally attacked in his home. When Outlook’s Lucy Ash spoke to Julian Onziema on an internet connection from Kampala, Julian described her friendship with David Kato and the effect of his brutal murder on her life.

Listen to the BBC interview

February 10, 2011 – RD Magazine

Gay Rights Activists Condemn “Spiritual War” in Uganda

by Candace Chellew-Hodge
Ugandan gay rights activists believe the police and government officials are using the brutal murder of gay rights activist David Kato as an excuse to again whip up support for an anti-homosexuality bill (so severe that it dictates imprisonment, and even execution for the ‘crime’ of homosexuality) still pending in Parliament.
Kato was beaten to death in January in his home in Uganda. Police now say the suspect, Nsubuga Enock, was Kato’s lover and he beat him to death after Kato failed to produce the house and car he had promised him in exchange for sex.

The story is “totally absurd,” according to Julius Kaggwa, a Ugandan native and a leader in the Kampala-based Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law. “Shortly after we buried David, Bahati (the sponsor of the anti-homosexuality bill) issued a statement saying, ‘This is the gay violence we have been talking about,’” Kaggwa said in an interview with Religion Dispatches. “There is a correlation there between this very convenient confession by this guy and this statement.”

Little Basis for Trust
Kaggwa and other LGBT activists have little motivation to believe the police, says Paul LeGendre, of Human Rights First in New York City. “The police are not particularly trustworthy,” LeGendre said. “I think it will be hard to truly believe any conclusion that they make in the end. There isn’t a history of trust between the LGBT community and the police.”

LeGendre said his organization had urged the Ugandan police to seek out international law enforcement support in their investigation to ensure the credibility of their findings. Their refusal to do so, coupled with the glaring silence of top Ugandan officials after the murder has done nothing to quell the fear of those in the LGBT community in Uganda. What Kaggwa and LeGendre know for sure is that Kato’s death is now being used to whip up new pressure to pass the internationally-condemned “kill the gays” bill.

“We’re not sure of anything, but if you look at everything that preceded (Kato’s) death you can’t help thinking that this is a conspiracy of some sort, or it is being used to reignite greater hostility in the public around this issue to support the bill,” Kaggwa said.

LeGendre points out that even if the bill is reintroduced in the next several months, as Bahati has promised to do, just the discussion of the bill has been the source of great violence in Uganda. That violence, he believes, has led to anyone who may oppose the most inhumane parts of the bill from speaking out for fear of being seen as supporting homosexuality.

Both LeGendre and Kaggwa acknowledge that homophobia has long been a way of life in Uganda, but that the fear and violence has increased since religious leaders from the United States arrived to preach against the special evil of homosexuality. “Homophobia has been here for ages, but it was not to the extent it has become. People just had their own opinions. They frowned upon homosexuality but we never had this kind of violence, and blatant hate speech in the media like with Rolling Stone—to kill people,” Kaggwa said.

Words Do Matter
Kaggwa blamed “moralistic evangelicals” from the United States for fueling much of the hate speech and framing this as a “spiritual war.” “They may not have killed David but they have started the process by planting hatred and planting lies,” he said.

As Reverend Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop, recently wrote in response to Kato’s murder:
Words do matter. While American conservative Christians feign shock that their words would lead to such draconian laws it’s not nearly enough when their influence means that every moment of every day, members of Uganda’s LGBT community fear for their lives.

Kaggwa stresses that it is imperative for international pressure to remain on Uganda’s leaders to reject the “kill the gays” bill. It is also crucial that Christians who support LGBT rights continue to speak out. However, he believes to be successful much of the outrage against the bill and the violence it has prompted must come from inside Uganda. He hopes that Kato’s death will spur more people to speak out, and even if it doesn’t, it has fueled his own passion—despite his own fears—to make Uganda a safe place for LGBT people.

“We are dead scared. But if we do not stand our ground then how many more deaths will occur?”

11 February 2011 – PinkNews

Scott Mills: ‘Gay hatred is everywhere in Uganda’

by Jessica Geen
The situation for gay people in Uganda was far worse than he expected, Scott Mills says. Speaking to about an upcoming documentary, the gay Radio 1 presenter told how he feared for his own safety in the country. Mills met anti-gay MP David Bahati as part of filming for ‘The World’s Worst Place to be Gay?’.
When the presenter said he was gay, Bahati became enraged and the film crew fled.

Later, they heard that Bahati had sent armed police to a hotel he thought they were staying at. “I was really frightened,” Mills said. “It’s just something that you wouldn’t think would happen. It was a real shock to the system and we were told to lie low.” He said: “I wasn’t aware before I went about what was going on in Uganda. I met gay people in safe houses because they had to flee their homes. The newspapers print their names, their photos, even what car they drive. These people are just hounded. It’s so bizarre that somewhere just seven hours away by plane can be so different.”

During filming, Mills met victims of homophobia and the pastors preaching against homosexuality. “All the gay people we met had a story about how they had been tormented or attacked,” he said. There was a guy we saw in hospital, he had AIDS and was very ill. But because they knew he was gay, he wasn’t getting the right treatment. He’s dead now. Then there was a girl called Stosh, who had to go into hiding after her face was plastered across the newspapers. It’s all very well reading about these things but when you actually go to Uganda, you realise how bad things are. It was a lot worse than I expected.”

Gay people in Uganda have “an air of optimism”, he said. “But they’re faced with every pastor, every teacher in every school, saying the same thing. They think things will change but it’s going to take a long time.” When asked how attitudes could change, Mills said: “I don’t really know. The West has been quite vocal and President Obama publicly denounced Uganda but [the preachers] still say homosexuality is un-African, that it is against the family. “They think it was brought in by the West.”

Many of those he met had been accused of “promoting” homosexuality and “recruiting” children. He said: “The pastors claim that gay people go into schools and offer children money but when you talk to the schools, they say it hasn’t happened. There’s no evidence for it.” The film crew also saw first-hand the influence Western preachers have on anti-gay sentiment in Uganda.

“It’s all wrapped up in Christianity and evangelicalism,” Mills said. “And Americans come over to preach. We went to a sermon and saw a guy from Atlanta preaching gay hate.” He added: “I went to Uganda with the aim of making a fair and balanced film but in two weeks, we couldn’t find any [non-gay] person saying that homosexuality was okay.” ‘The World’s Worst Place to be Gay?’ will be shown on BBC Three at 9pm on Monday February 14th.

14 February, 2011 – MSM Global Forum

BBC Documentary: World’s Worst Place to Be Gay?

Scott Mills travels to Uganda where the death penalty could soon be introduced for being gay. The gay Radio 1 DJ finds out what it’s like to live in a society which persecutes people like him and meets those who are leading the hate campaign.

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View original article here

18 February 2011 – PinkNews

WikiLeaks cables reveal Ugandan homophobia

by Staff Writer
Diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks show the extent of Ugandan homophobia. American embassy cables describe a 2009 UN-sponsored meeting which gay rights campaigner David Kato spoke at, the Guardian reports. Mr Kato, who was murdered this month, was openly mocked as he nervously read a speech against a bill to strengthen Uganda’s laws against homosexuality.
The US diplomat wrote that the homophobia of bill sponsor David Bahati MP was “is blinding and incurable”.

The cables also refer to anti-gay pastor Martin Ssempa and Ugandan ethics minister James Nsaba Buturo. One said: “Bahati, Buturo, and particularly Ssempa’s ability to channel popular anger over Uganda’s socio-political failings into violent hatred of a previously unpopular but tolerated minority is chilling.”

The memos also showed diplomatic attempts to combat the controversial bill. The status of the bill is currently unclear but anti-gay feeling runs high in the country. Gay rights campaigners in Uganda are calling for a full investigation into Mr Kato’s death. One man has been arrested and police say Mr Kato’s activist was not relevant. The activist had received death threats after successfully suing a newspaper for publishing his name, address and photo in an anti-gay campaign.

20 February, 2011 – MSM Global Forum

Examining Life in safe spaces, concept of homophobia and sexuality in 14 urban settings of Uganda 2008-2010

By Thomas Muyunga
Introduction: Homophobia is kindled through media and public display of same sex relation in Uganda. Homophobia destroys: assured livelihood, security and enjoyment of sexuality. These at individual level translate as enjoyment of basics of life, safe passage in all situations and enjoyment of relations. This report attempts to show relationship between tolerable conduct, productivity, enjoying a relationship of one’s choice and avoiding homophobic tendencies in Uganda. This was limited to following 95 same sex practicing respondents (LGBT), 12 questioning persons, 5 bisexual women and 20 bisexual men in 14 urban settings for 3 years in Uganda .

Methods: 132 persons aged 13 years to 57 years at 14 urban areas: Mpigi, Kabale, Entebbe, Mukono, Mbarara, Masaka, Nansana, Mbale, Jinja, Kampala, Kawaala, Nakulabye, Makerere and Namungoona were followed from 2008-2010. Rent payments, seeking health care, re-filling sexual/reproductive health consumables, involvement in community activities, appearances at “gay” functions, job security, anecdotal stories, and references to activities involving same sex sexual relations were basis of collections of information used in this report.

Results: All 20 bisexual males ( 28-57 years) paid house rent for their partners in low-middle income areas. Twelve (12) had earlier supported their partners with loans to start off small scale businesses in food, hair, video/film/music businesses. Eight (8) paid school fees for their partners in higher institutions of learning. All 5 bisexual women had established homes, were influential persons in their communities. 3 of these were peers to younger same sex attracted girls. These girls seek relationship counseling from them. 37 girls had sought relationship counseling between July 2008- June 2009. A short questionnaire administered during re-fill of sexual/reproductive health consumables towards end of 2010 revealed that: 89 respondents ( 22-42 years) had stayed in their places of residence for more than 5 years. The least was 3 years without any interruptions or interferences from neighbours. All of them revealed that their neighbours saw them frequently hosting same sex persons who would spend nights or even weekends at their places. When asked about relations with gate keepers to hostels, owners of shops where they buy household commodities or motorcycle riders who frequently transport them, they affirmed a strong respectful relation where everyone minded their business. 10 who were questioning their sexuality had also revealed earlier same sex sexual debut at 12 years. These ones were still under parental care and had remained in schools. They revealed that they meet with people they knew were same sex practicing regularly. They also were frequent users of social networks like face book. Media outing was said to be the most feared, followed by blackmail and visits by members who were unrestrained in public display of same sex sexual relations.

Conclusion: There are safe spaces where same sex relations are tolerated in Uganda. The conduct of someone and unrestrained public display of same sex sexual relations are tinder that stoke the fires of homophobia. A productive life combined with caution ensures peaceful life for LGBTIQQ in Uganda.

March 3rd, 2011 – Box Turttle Bulletin

Uganda Parliamentary Committee Chair: Anti-Homosexuality Bill May Not Come Up For A Vote

by Jim Burroway
That’s the word Warren Throckmorton received from the Chair of the Parliamentary and Legal Affairs Committee, Stephen Tashobya. His committee was assigned the Anti-Homosexuality Bill for consideration and possible revision before reporting the bill back out to Parliament for a vote. Tashobya now says “I am not sure if we will get to that one now” before the current Parliament ends in May, citing a backlog of other bills that require consideration. Warren notes that this contradicts Tashobya’s prediction in January that the bill would be brought to a vote during Parliament’s lame duck session following February’s elections.

Uganda held Presidential and Parliamentary elections on February 18, which returned 25-year ruling President Youweri Museveni to another five year term and assured his ruling party a veto-proof majority in Parliament. His ruling party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) also holds the required majority in Parliament to change the constitution at will. On the bright side, Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo, one of the bill’s most ardent supporters, lost his re-election bid. It’s not clear though that this guarantees the end of his tenure in Museveni’s cabinet since the constitution allows the President to appoint ministers who are not members of Parliament. David Bahati, the bill’s sponsor, easily won re-election to represent his Ndorwa West constituency after his opponent withdrew from the race over concerns for his safety and that of his family.

The next Parliament will be seated in June. If the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is not reported out of committee and onto the floor of Parliament for a vote before the current Parliament ends, it will die at the close of Parliament.

March 21, 2011 – African Activist

Challenging the Religious Fundamentalism Behind MP David Bahati’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009

As Uganda’s Parliament reconvenes on Tuesday and legislators begin consideration of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, Gaaki Kigambo wrote an insightful editorial in The Observer about lead sponsor MP David Bahati’s participation in the BBC Debate: Is Homosexuality Un-African? Kigambo does a good job of challenging a core belief behind the bill, that homosexuality goes against Uganda’s ethos as a Christian nation.

Bahati also holds that homosexuality, and especially in Uganda, goes against our ethos as a Christian nation and, on that basis, is sin. Article 7 of the constitution, however, states that Uganda shall not adopt a state religion. Uganda’s claim then as a Christian nation – as Michael Kyazze, the pastor of Omega Healing Centre noted – is only derivative from the fact that a huge percentage of people have been raised and socialised as Christians, which has, consequently, informed the nation’s moral basis. Yet, how much of that moral basis exists to challenge homosexuality is debatable in a country where corruption, for instance, as the Inspectorate of Government 2008 integrity survey indicated, is an accepted way of life.

Ugandans, the survey noted, “seemed to glorify those who acquire wealth through graft, while they ridiculed those who upheld principles of integrity and moral values”. Kigambo exposed the lack of evidence MP Bahati brought to the debate for his assertions that homosexuality hurts population growth and is a danger to children. Baited by host Zeinab Badawi, Bahati emphatically stated, as his second main thrust against gay people, that the existence of homosexuals in Africa certainly compromises population growth even if he could not supply statistics to back such an assertion…

Bahati also premises his bill on the need to curtail the promotion of homosexuality, which he says is endangering the lives of young children. According to him, “we have a number of children in Uganda who have been traumatised by the fact that they have been adopted by gay couples and they have been forced to call a man ‘mum’ or a woman, ‘dad’”. He, however, could not offer concrete evidence to back this up, just as he would not when challenged to back up his sweeping statement that gay people were investing money to indoctrinate children into homosexuality. “We have evidence and we are not obliged to present it to this audience,” Bahati claimed.

Much of MP Bahati’s rhetoric during the debate about procreation and the risk homosexuality poses to children mirrors the rhetoric of religious fundamentalism in the United States–spin conceived in ideological hate. Kigambo highlighted this connection very well. A Lutheran pastor, Pieter Oberholzer, then cut in. “I’m hearing you speak from one side only – the religious Christian fundamentalism – and, I’m sorry to say, the words you are using are identical to [the ones of] the three American pastors who went to your country to talk to you and your President and many leaders with their agenda, saying [homosexuals] were trying to recruit the whole world. I haven’t heard you say anything new. So, you want to be African, voicing right wing American religious fundamentalists,” Oberholzer said.

While Bahati admitted that most of what he had said was not new, he defended this apparent lack of originality, saying it was “because the problem hasn’t been solved”. However, he said the piece of legislation he is proposing is a Ugandan legislation, proposed by Ugandans. It is a strange coincidence, however, that the bill was drafted shortly after Scott Lively, Caleb Lee Brundidge and Don Schmierer spoke at a conference in Kampala organised by the NGO, Family Life Network. All three not only hold strong views against homosexuality, but are involved in efforts to discourage it.

Kigambo ends the editorial with a concern: "To Bahati’s advantage, though, such scrutiny will be absent both in Parliament and the general public over the next six weeks when the bill is up for debate." Hopefully this is not the case and that the public hearing phase of committee meetings will provide a forum for those concerned about human rights and separation of church and state.

March 23, 2011 – The New York Times

Rights Group Accuses Ugandan Police of Torture and Killings

by Josh Kron
Kampala, Uganda — The Ugandan government has engaged in torture, illegal detention and extrajudicial killings of its citizens, according to a report released on Wednesday.
The report, by Human Rights Watch, focuses on the activities of an agency known as the Rapid Response Unit, a branch of the Uganda police service created to tackle violent crime. The unit has also become an ally of the United States in combating terrorism. Most recently, it helped investigate the terrorist attacks in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, during the World Cup last year, in which more than 70 people died.

The report says that members of the unit, called the R.R.U., have repeatedly broken the law. “Since the unit was established, R.R.U. officers and affiliated personnel have carried out arrests for a wide range of crimes, from petty theft to terrorism,” it said. The Ugandan government declined to comment on the report.

Of 77 people interviewed, Human Rights Watch said, 60 said they had been tortured by members of the unit. Common abuses included beatings on wrists, ankles, knees and elbows while suspects were handcuffed in stress positions. “R.R.U. personnel beat detainees with batons, sticks, bats, metal pipes, padlocks, table legs and other objects,” the report said. “Suspects often said they were forced to sign confessions under duress following torture.”

According to the report, members of the response unit committed six extrajudicial killings in 2010; some people were beaten to death, and some were shot, including one person who was handcuffed when he was shot. Others were imprisoned without being charged, the group said. Some suspects were transported in the trunks of unmarked cars, or severely beaten, the report said.

Mustafa Ssendege, 35, a former security guard, was detained with two others by three officers from the unit after a robbery at a house he was guarding. After two nights in a police station, the three men were taken back to the house, where they were tied up and beaten repeatedly with metal pipes while the officers told them to confess. One man, Frank Ssekanjako, finally collapsed. “He said, ‘Instead of beating me, why don’t you just shoot me to die,’ ” Mr. Ssendege recalled. “And the officer said, ‘No, you will die from the beatings.’ ”

Human Rights Watch described the response unit as the “preferred unit” for those seeking arrests or confessions “by any means.” “In cases we looked at by R.R.U., suspects were beaten until they confessed, paraded before journalists and dubbed hard-core criminals and then put on trial before military officers,” said Maria Burnett, a researcher for the group in Uganda. The report’s findings could be a cause for concern for the United States, which is a strong ally of Uganda and a partner in trying to counter emerging terrorist threats in East Africa.

“The United States continues to encourage Ugandan security services to respect human rights and the rule of law in pursuit of justice,” the American Embassy in Kampala said in a statement on the report. “We routinely work with the military and law enforcement to enhance the professionalization of these services and will continue to do so.”

March 24, 2011 – African Activist

David Kato Murder Case Moved to the Uganda High Court

Poster from NYC Vigil
During the 17 March 2011 hearing on David Kato‘s murder, the case was transferred from the Grade II Magistrate Court in Mukono to the Uganda High Court. Frank Mugisha, Director for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), reports that the request was made by police who have concluded the investigation. The court room was filled with activists interested in justice for David Kato.
The murder case of late gay rights activist David Kato has been transferred to the Ugandan high court during the third hearing on 17 March 2011, at the Grade II Magistrate court in Mukono, however the actual date for the next hearing is yet to be announced.

Frank Mugisha, Director for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) told Behind the Mask that the accused was brought to court for the hearing and that since police seemed to have finished the investigations they asked the court to forward the murder case to the high court and the magistrate approved. Mugisha said that once again the court room was filled with activists who came to support and journalists. He also explained that the accused was handed a “document with charges of murder” and was asked to find a lawyer or ask the government to give a lawyer, however the accused didn’t say anything and was further remanded in custody.

During the last court appearance in the case of the Republic of Uganda vs. Nsubuga Sydney Alias Enoch, the case was mentioned in court and adjourned without a hearing for further investigation. The first and second court appearances were held on 17 February and 3 March 2011 respectively.

Ongoing Questions About the Murder Investigation
Human Rights Watch released a report this week documenting the torture, forced confessions and killings by the Kampala-based Rapid Response Unit (RRU), the very unit that located and interrogated the suspects in the murder of David Kato.

The unit’s mandate is to investigate violent crime…Human Rights Watch also found that the unit routinely uses torture to extract confessions. Sixty of 77 interviewees who had been arrested by RRU told Human Rights Watch that they had been severely beaten at some point during their detention and interrogations. In 2010, at least two people died of injuries from beatings during interrogations, and four people were shot and killed in the course of an arrest…Several former detainees told Human Rights Watch that RRU personnel forced them to sign statements under duress, while the detainees were being beaten or threatened with further violence.

We know that MP David Bahati, author of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 about to be considered by Uganda’s Parliament, and the supporters of the bill, Pastor Martin Ssempa, Giles Muhame and Scott Lively, provided motives for David Kato’s murder to the world press five days before the arrest and interrogation of the prime suspect. The motives prefigure the confession of Enoch Sydney Nsubuga almost exactly.

In a 9 February 2011 editorial in The Monitor, Ugandan journalist Charles Onyango-Obbo wrote:
So, here comes the hard part. It is possible Kato was murdered by the anti-gay brigade. The Uganda Police is not famous for its great investigative skills, so any time they quickly parade suspects who confess to a crime, the public has every right to be suspicious that the whole show has been fixed. In a similar vein, blogger Gay Uganda has consistently questioned the Kato murder investigation in the context of the Rapid Response Unit. He wrote today about the Human Rights Watch report:

This is common knowledge in Uganda. The beatings, the torture, the confessions. This is why I doubted the ‘confession’ of David Kato Kisule’s purported murderer. I don’t know whether he killed him or not. And, I don’t know whether I can trust the police on a high profile case like David’s murder became. Not with such outside pressure and interest…The people who do these things, the numerous security agencies that do these, are effectively immune.

The European Parliament has called on Ugandan authorities to investigate individuals who publicly called for the killing of David Kato:
Calls on the Ugandan authorities to carry out an in-depth and impartial investigation into the killing and bring the perpetrators to justice, and to do so in respect of any act of persecution, discrimination and violence against LGBT people and all other minority groups; calls on the Ugandan authorities to investigate individuals who publicly called for the killing of David Kato, as well as their organisations, role and funding.

The Uganda High Court
With the police investigation concluded, it is an excellent development that the case has been moved to the Uganda High Court which recently issued a permanent injunction against the Rolling Stone for publishing David Kato’s picture under the caption "Hang Them." Perhaps the Uganda High Court can sort through the evidence in an unbiased way so that David Kato receives justice.

27th March 2011 – Queerty

Why Did I Have To Be Born Gay In Africa?

by Elizabeth Day, for The Observer
As a child in Uganda, John Bosco remembers hearing an old wives’ tale that if a man fell asleep in the sun and it crossed over him, he would wake up as a woman. "I used to try that as a kid," says John now, some 30 years later. He sits at a table in a busy cafe across the road from the railway station in Southampton, his fingers playing with the handle of a glass of hot chocolate. "I’d spend all day lying under the sun. From childhood, I wanted to be a girl. I wanted dolls. At school, I played netball. I wanted to dress up like a girl … I rubbed herbs into my chest that were meant to make your breasts grow. I tried everything but it didn’t work."

He tells me that there was not one single moment when he realised he was gay; that the knowledge of it had always been there, unexpressed until he found the right words. As he grew older, John started being attracted to men. On the radio, he heard stories of gay couples being beaten and killed by police. He says that if he could have changed himself, he would because he so desperately wanted to be considered "normal", to fit in, to make his family proud.

When he went to university to study for a business administration degree, his relatives and neighbours in Kampala would ask why he never had a girlfriend. "I used lots of excuses – I’m not yet ready, or I have a girlfriend who doesn’t live in the same area," he says. "It was difficult because you cannot be open [about your sexuality]. You can’t socialise like any other person. A lot of the time, you have to keep your distance. You feel you’re not yourself. It makes things really hard."

This is the reality of being gay in modern Uganda, a place where homosexuality is criminalised under the penal code, punishable by life imprisonment. According to human rights organisations, about 500,000 homosexuals live in the country, unable to admit their sexuality for fear of violent retribution either from the police or their own communities. Anti-gay legislation is a relic of British colonialism, designed to punish what the imperial authorities thought of as "unnatural sex" – thinking that was subsequently reinforced by wave upon wave of Catholic missionaries.

Although much of that legacy has been dismantled as Uganda modernises, homophobia is as entrenched as ever. An anti-homosexuality bill, due to be discussed by parliament before June, advocates the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality" –ie for gay people with HIV practising sex, or gay people who have sex with someone under 18. Known colloquially as the "kill the gays" bill, it would also make it a crime not to report someone you know to be a practising homosexual, thereby putting parents, siblings and friends at risk. "One of the things the Ugandans say is that being gay is European culture, that it is un-African," explains John, 31. "There is this idea that Europeans and Americans are recruiting people to be gay, giving them money to do it."

Last October, the now defunct anti-gay Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone published a list of the country’s "top 100" homosexuals under the headline "Hang Them". In January, the prominent gay-rights activist David Kato was murdered – beaten to death in his home by a hammer-wielding thug. Gays, lesbians and transgendered people in Uganda face harassment, extortion, vandalism, death threats and violence on a daily basis. They can be sacked from employment if they are outed, forced to enter into heterosexual marriage and detained by the authorities without charge or access to legal defence. In some of the worst cases, they can be subjected to so-called "correctional rape".

It is not only Uganda – for years, the developed world has turned a blind eye to the state-sanctioned persecution of homosexuals that exists in 38 out of 53 African nations, according to Human Rights Watch. Now, a new feature-length documentary film seeks to redress the balance. Getting Out, directed by film-maker Alexandra Chapman in conjunction with Christian Aid, tells the story of the gay refugees who are forced to flee discrimination in their own countries.

"It is very important for people in the west to understand that legalised and state-sanctioned homophobia is a reality in many parts of Africa," says Dr Chris Dolan, director of the Refugee Law Project at Makerere University in Kampala, who was instrumental in the making of the film. Dolan, who campaigns extensively to protect the rights of beleaguered minorities in this corner of Africa, says that the political climate in Uganda "enables a wide range of abuses and violations that seriously diminish the quality of life of all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, most of whom seek to stay under the public radar. It also places many such persons in serious and extreme danger."

For John, the danger soon became too great to ignore. At his university freshers’ ball, he met and fell in love with a man called Aziz. The two of them were discreet, taking care not to be seen acting too intimately in public. In this way – never quite being honest, living in the half-shadows, always looking over their shoulders – their relationship continued after graduation when John took a well-paid job in a bank. When John first took Aziz home to visit his family, he was introduced as "my best friend. He became like another son to my mum. That was the way it was until 2001."

Then everything changed. A group of John’s gay friends were arrested in a police crackdown. They were beaten and forced to give the names of other gay people they knew. John realised he had to get out. "I had to disappear," he says. "I had some money saved up so I paid a private agency to get me a visa, a passport … I didn’t tell anybody I was leaving, not even my family. At first, I didn’t know where I was going. But then, luckily, the guy gave me a visa to the UK."

John Bosco did not know it then, but his problems were only just beginning.

Read article

April 3. 2011 – Behind The Mask

Uganda: Anti-Gay Bill May Be Dead But Effects Are Still Alive

Although Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill appears dead for now, after being declared redundant by the administration of President Yoweri Museveni, Ugandan activists warn its effects are still very much alive, citing the widespread homophobia they say it has caused. Reports state that Ugandan Minister of Information , Masiko Kabakumba announced, on Thursday 25 March that the Bill was declared redundant because other laws already make being gay a crime in Uganda and that the Sexual Offenses Bill, would cover any outstanding concerns. It was reported however that author of the Bill, David Bahati still insists that a “specific and clear” law is still needed to fight the “promotion” of homosexuality, stating that he will push for the Bill to be passed before parliament expires in May.

Frank Mugisha, Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda stated that the “widespread homophobia” and hate created by the bill remain. “It is one thing for government to stop the bill but without creating laws on hate crimes, there are many dangers we are still faced with”, Mugisha said. He added, “I also feel this is simply government saying let us not talk about homosexuality in Uganda, but we want government to be clear and create laws on hate crimes against LGBT people and also to decriminalise homosexuality.” Mugisha however extended his gratitude to all who fought for the Bill to be stopped. “We appreciate so much our efforts and our partners’ both nationally and internationally in stopping the bill.”

The Ugandan Penal Code criminalises homosexuality with a life sentence for consensual sex between adults of the same sex. Meanwhile a new bill, the Sexual Offences Bill (SOB) is being watched closely by activists who fear that it may replicate both the Penal Code and the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. “We need to pay attention to what will happen to the Sexual Offences Bill (SOB) as much as we paid attention to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill”, Ugandan activist Val Kalende said. “We are waiting to see what comes out of the SOB and yes it is a bill to worry about as it could carry clauses from the Anti Homosexuality Bill”, warned Mugisha.

Mugisha highlighted that the next steps will be to continue with their advocacy, not allow any form of discrimination against LGBTI people and to “make sure that we have equal rights like any Ugandan.” The Anti-Homosexuality Bill was introduced in 14 October 2009 by Member of Parliament Bahati, sparking worldwide condemnation, as one of the Bill’s provisions states that anyone who commits the “offence” of homosexuality will be liable to life imprisonment.

April 6, 2011 – African Activist

Makarere University Students Lobby for MP David Bahati’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009

Derrick Waiswa, the Makerere University leader of the Coalition of Concerned Youth Against Homosexuality, was arrested in Uganda’s Parliament yesterday after attempting to conduct an unauthorised press conference about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009. He had led a group of university students to meet with the chairman of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee, Stephen Tashobya. It appears that Derrick Waiswa attends Makerere Community Church where Martin Ssempa serves as pastor. The Razor reports on Waiswa’s meeting with Tashobya. Much of what was shared with the chairman of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee mirrors the rhetoric of Martin Ssempa himself.

It may sound bizarre, but Makerere University students are being lured into homosexuality by minority groups. Parliament heard yesterday that they are being paid an attractive monthly allowance of Shs800,000. Derrick Waiswa, a student leader at Makekere University, yesterday petitioned Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee chairman Stephen Tashobya in his office at Parliament demanding that the House expedite debating the Homosexuality Bill 2009 so that it is passed into law to save the situation.

“Mr Chairman, I am a concerned Ugandan citizen because I know that, in the near future, I will become a parent and I am worried that my children will be recruited to be homosexuals. If the Bill is not debated and passed, I am worried that the future of Ugandan children is at stake,” said Waiswa. Waiswa, who heads the Coalition of Concerned Youth Against Homosexuality at Makerere University, wondered why Parliament was taking so long to debate the Bill – two years after it was tabled on the floor of the House and less than a month before the Eighth Parliament expires.

“Mr Chairman, I have evidence that you are under pressure from the gay groups and donors not to pass the Bill. I have seen emails from the pro-gay activists threatening MPs not to pass the Bill. Is that why you have taken long to debate and pass the Bill?” asked Waiswa. Waiswa said that last semester he received two cases of students who were successfully lured to join gay groups and has been urging fellow students to keep alert as the numbers seem to be growing. He did not disclose names of the already recruited students.

The article also claims that Tashobya is looking for a way to get the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 out of committee. It is important to note that The Razor does not mention Waiswa’s arrest. The Uganda Pulse describes what ensued when Waiswa tried to conduct the unauthorised press conference. There was drama at Parliament this afternoon when police officers threw out anti-homosexuality activists for failure to seek permission to hold a press conference. The fracas ensued after one of the activists; Derick Waiswa addressed the media, shortly after meeting the chairman of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee, Stephen Tashobya, whose committee is scrutinizing the controversial Anti Homosexuality bill.

Waiswa, who claims to be a Makerere University student, earlier told the media that Parliament should fast track the passing of the bill before the 8th Parliament closes to protect the citizens from what he describes as inhumane acts of homosexuals. The Officer in charge of the Parliament Police Station, Erias Kasirabo, together with other police officers then arrested Waiswa and held him for trespass before he was released shortly after. Derrick Waiswa’s Facebook profile lists Makerere Community Church where Martin Ssempa serves as pastor. His personal description reads: "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the lord, making his paths straight. the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Martin Ssempa has been on trial for allegedly trumping up false sexual assault charges against Pastor Robert Kayanja in what looks to be a war between rival Pentecostal churches. MP David Bahati has worked with this coalition of Pentecostal pastors for over a year to stir up anti-homosexual religious fervor in support of the bill.

April 7, 2011 – African Activist

Religious Leaders Led by Martin Ssempa Demand Debate on Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009

Religious leaders lead by Pastor Martin Ssempa gathered at Uganda’s Parliament on Wednesday to demand that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 be debated. They delivered a petition signed by over two million people to Speaker of Parliament, Mr Edward Ssekandi.

The Daily Monitor reports:
Anti-homosexuality activists have presented a petition in Parliament, calling for the passing of the anti-gay Bill. The petition, signed by two million people countrywide, was presented to the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Edward Ssekandi, yesterday by anti-gay activists led by Pastor Martin Ssempa. “We are not here to hang the gays as people have speculated but to protect young men and girls being recruited into the practice,” Pastor Ssempa said. They also listed 19 organisations which they claimed are promoting homosexuality in the country.

Mr Ssekandi promised that the Bill would be debated. “The mover of the Bill (David Bahati) is still a member of the 9th Parliament and even if the current Parliament doesn’t debate it, the new Parliament will do it,” Mr Ssekandi said. He added: “Since the Bill was tabled, I have received numerous calls from the international community to throw it out but I always tell them that I don’t have those powers.”

Mr Ssekandi also told the team that their petition would be considered by the committee. The Bill, tabled in Parliament by Mr Bahati as a private members Bill in 2009, seeks among others to imprison for life anyone convicted of “the offence of homosexuality,” punish “aggravated homosexuality” and offences like having gay sex while HIV-positive by a death penalty upon conviction.

It also forbids any “promotion of homosexuality” and incarcerates gay-rights defenders. Pastor Ssempa said there were allegations of huge sums of money being brought into the country to influence people against passing the Bill. The Bill is still before the parliamentary Committee on Legal and Parliament Affairs although the committee chair said government Bills before his committee take precedence.

VOA reports:
Lead by Pastor Martin Ssempa, a charismatic and vocal opponent of homosexuality in Uganda, the group asked Ugandan Parliamentary Speaker Edward Kiwanuka to fight the emerging “homo-cracy” in Uganda and enter the bill for debate. “We as religious leaders and civil society are distressed that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is being deliberately killed largely by the undemocratic threats of western nations," he said. "These same nations who promote democracy don’t want our representative to discuss laws to protect our children from the human trafficking of recruiting our children into homosexuality.”

Ssempa leads the Inter-Religious Taskforce Against Homosexuality. During the session with Speaker Kiwanuka, the Task Force presented a portion of over 2 million signatures it said were gathered from around Uganda in support of the bill. Ssempa and his counterpart Pastor Julius Oyet warned that homosexual advocacy groups were attempting to recruit Uganda’s youth to not only support gay rights but also engage in homosexual acts. To strengthen their message, Ssempa also brought former homosexuals to recount their conversion to homosexuality.

On Tuesday, Derrick Waiswa, the Makerere University leader of the Coalition of Concerned Youth Against Homosexuality, was arrested in Uganda’s Parliament after attempting to conduct an unauthorised press conference about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009. He had led a group of university students to meet with the chairman of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee, Stephen Tashobya. Earlier reports indicated that the bill was dead in committee.

April 09, 2011 – African Activist

Reasoned Analysis of Uganda’s HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Bill

The Uganda Health and Science Press Association (UHSPA-Uganda) issued a memorandum today providing a reasoned analysis of the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Bill under consideration in Uganda’s Parliament. The position statement was developed at a consultative meeting with lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons convened by UHSPA on the 4th February at the Ivy Hotel in Kampala. This excellent memorandum has been added to African Activist’s resources page.

Joint Statement by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Persons on HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Bill, 2010 AIDS is no longer [just] a disease. It is a human rights issue — Nelson Mandela When we discuss a contentious subject like homosexuality, we need to do so recognising that we are talking about human beings…We also need to realise that we live in a large world, not a narrow Uganda…(in) my opinion as a pediatrician and medical doctor who has studied the subject of homosexuality, I can tell you that homosexuality is not an acquired condition. — Dr. Munini Mulera

Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. — Universal Declaration of Human Rights This memorandum is by the Uganda Health and Science Press Association(UHSPA-Uganda) which is a registered LGBTIQ network of groups and individuals that work to promote health rights of vulnerable and minority groups, put an end to homophobia ,as well as stream line minority concerns in all Uganda’s public health policies and laws.

UHSPA-Uganda also addresses media defamation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgenders and Intersex Ugandans to stop Public incitement to hate related crimes This position statement was born of a consultative meeting convened by UHSPA on Friday, February 4, 2011 at Ivy’s Hotel, Kampala to seek the views of LGBTI Persons and other key stakeholders on the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Bill. It is upon this mandate that we present this Memorandum our concerns as regards the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Bill (hereinafter referred to as “the Bill”).

The purpose of this statement is to provide the Parliament of Uganda with a reasoned analysis of the Bill from an LGBTI perspective so as to ensure that the deliberation over this bill is an informed process and that the eventual result is a law that actually prevents and controls the spread of HIV.

1. LGBTI Persons’ Solidarity With the Wider Civil Society Concerned by the HIV/AIDS

To begin with, we fully associate ourselves with the Joint Civil Society Statement on the Draft HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Bill, which we had the opportunity of contributing to and which has already been presented to Parliament. We share the opinion, expressed in that joint statement, that a law on HIV/AIDS is not only desirable but is actually necessary and long overdue in view of this country’s long and sad experience with the scourge of HIV/AIDS.

Our concern therefore is as regards the substance of this law and whether it captures best practices in curbing the spread of HIV. As direct stakeholders in the fight against the spread of HIV, we are anxious to see that this law is evidence-based, founded on proper research and clear scientific information about what drives the epidemic and informed by an understanding that any interventions in the area should have human rights at their core. We are concerned that a law that is based on populism, moral outrage or religious feeling as opposed to being evidence-based and human rights centred runs the risk of becoming a driver of the epidemic as opposed to a part of the solution.

We agree that human rights should be at the centre of the bill not only because it has been shown that those public health policies that ignore human rights are ultimately ineffective, but also because the state, its organs and government (including the parliament) are under a duty to respect, promote and fulfil human rights.

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April 12, 2011 – Black Looks

Love, Against Homophobia

by Sokari
“My Love (for Eudy Simelane)”

To some people
My love is somewhat alien;
When he comes up, they start subject-changing, and
In some states he’s seen as some contagion –
In those zones, he stays subterranean;
Some love my love; they run parades for him:
Liberal citizens lead the way for him:
Concurrent with some countries embracing him,
Whole faiths and nations seem ashamed of him:
Some tried banning him,
God-damning him,
Toe-tagging him,
Prayed that he stayed in the cabinet,
But my love kicked in the panelling, ran for it –
My love! Can’t be trapping him in labyrinths! –
Maverick, my love is; thwarts challenges;
Cleverest geneticists can’t fathom him,
Priests can’t defeat him with venomous rhetoric;
They’d better quit; my love’s too competitive:
Still here, despite the Taliban, Vatican,
And rap, ragga in their anger and arrogance,
Calling on my love with lit matches and paraffin –
Despite the fistfights and midnight batterings –
Despite the dislike by Anglican Africans
And sly comparisons with those mishandling
Small kids, and his morbid inner chattering
My love’s still here and fiercely battling,
Parenting, marrying, somehow managing;
My love comes through anything

April 13 2011 – Sunday Monitor

Cabinet wants gays Bill dropped

by Sheila Naturinda
A Cabinet sub-committee formed to study the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2010 and report back to Cabinet, yesterday added a spin into the Bill and called for its withdrawal.
In a closed-door meeting with Mr David Bahati, the mover of the Bill, the sub-committee said some of the penalties proposed in the Bill could be catered for by the Penal Code Act and the yet-to-come Sexual Offences Bill.

Sources, who attended the meeting, said the sub-committee, chaired by First Deputy Premier Eriya Kategaya, suggested that if Mr Bahati did not mind a lot, he could withdraw the Bill. “They said Cabinet doesn’t agree with the death penalty which the Bill proposes,” a source, who cannot be named because they are not authorised to speak on behalf of Cabinet, said. “They asked Bahati to drop the Bill if he doesn’t care much.”

Sources also said Mr Bahati went with Commissioners Denis Obua and Justine Lumumba and MPs Beatrice Lagada, Wilfred Niwagaba and Fred Nkaayi. Mr Bahati acknowledged meeting the subcommittee but refuted claims that he had been asked to withdraw the Bill. “The meeting was purposed to build a win-win situation so that we improve on the Bill but we continue upholding the values of our country.”

Early last year after meeting Cabinet over the Bill, Mr Bahati said he was willing to amend the proposed law but “without putting the values of the country at risk”. The sub-committee was set up by President Museveni after pressure from the US and other countries in Europe to drop the Bill.

April 15, 2011 – The Advocate

Ugandan LGBTs Paid to Back Antigay Bill

by Julie Bolcer
As the Ugandan parliament appears to have abandoned the notorious “kill the gays” bill this session, desperate antigay pastor Martin Ssempa may have paid LGBT witnesses to testify as “ex-gays” in support of the measure.
The New York Times reports on the visit Ssempa made to parliament last week in order to urge lawmakers to debate the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which has become “politically toxic” in the wake of the murder of prominent gay rights activist David Kato. The activist had recently won a case against the Rolling Stone tabloid newspaper, which ran his photo with a headline calling for him and other activists to be hanged.

“But with Parliament closing next month, Mr. Ssempa, a leading religious figure from an independent sect of Christianity, made a last-ditch push last week, bringing a coalition of religious leaders, civil society organizers and two self-described former homosexuals to meet directly with the speaker of Parliament, Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi. They presented him with a petition containing what they said were more than two million signatures in support of the bill,” reported the Times. While blaming the death of the bill on “homocracy,” or political bullying, from Western nations, some of which give aid to Uganda, Ssempa also invited two witnesses, Paul Kagaba and George Oundo, to testify. They said they had been rescued by Ssempa after being “recruited” into the LGBT community by activists including Kato.

However, the Times reports that afterward, Oundo, who is transgender, retracted much of his testimony. He said he believes Kato was murdered and that he does not support the bill. “Mr. Oundo said that his presence alongside Mr. Ssempa at Parliament had been to ‘protect’ himself and that he had been contacted only that morning by Mr. Kagaba about the meeting and offered about $42 to attend,” reported the Times. “He said Mr. Ssempa had offered him about $2,000 in 2009 to repent and switch sides in the debate, but later reneged. Either way, Mr. Oundo became a poster-child for Mr. Ssempa’s anti-homosexuality movement.”

Ssempa declined comment on the charges. “Ex-gay” survivor group Truth Wins Out has called on the Ugandan government to investigate the pastor for perjury, extortion, and fraud