Eight suicide attempts in Uganda in last two weeks over anti-gay law

While some have remained resolute and will continue to fight against homophobia, others have fled the country and have attempted suicide

Eight suicide attempts in Uganda in last two weeks over anti-gay law
24 February 2014

Eight people have attempted suicide in the last two weeks over the anti-gay law, gay rights activists have told GSN.

President Yoweri Museveni has signed the anti-gay bill into law today (24 February), one of the most draconic legislations in the world.

Since the law was passed on 20 December, underground LGBT groups have reported that several have attempted suicide and others have left the country.

And with an increase in mob violence, gay groups warn that because of a lack of education, the law will lead to gay people being ‘hunted down’.

Pepe Julian Onziema, a LGBTI rights activist in Uganda, said people were feeling ‘really scared’ over the legislation.

‘There’s been many suicide attempts over the last two weeks, at least eight.’ he told Gay Star News. ‘Like on Thursday, a man swallowed a bottle of pills and had to be taken to hospital.

‘He’s still in hospital. He’s disappointed that he did not die.’

Out of the eight attempts, three succeeded in killing themselves.

He explained that generally, in Uganda, reaction the new law is mixed with the majority wanting politicians to focus on the real issues.

‘Those who are on the extreme anti-gay side, they are going to say good riddance if a homosexual is dead,’ he said.

Onziema said his biggest fear now are the mob attacks, as homophobes will be able to use gays as a scapegoat for their violence.

‘They call their bill “theirs”. It is not. They don’t understand it. The law doesn’t allow you to go attack people. It’s a badge of violent ignorance,’ he said.

‘I am afraid of a hunt. Some of us, my face particularly, is well known everywhere.

‘They will attack anyone who they suspect is gay. This was happening before it was made law, and it will only increase. They’re probably on the hunt now.’

Onziema called on Ugandan LGBTIs to keep safe and to seek help on social media if needed.

‘It makes me sad that my community is unsafe. It’s intentionally put at risk,’ he said.

‘It’s like standing by the roadside and being pushed in front of a speeding car. That is what the president has done to us.’

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