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'What I do is deadly,' says Ugandan gay journalist

Journalist, radio presenter and blogger Peterson Ssendi discusses why some people in Uganda think 'being gay is cursed, others think it's criminal'

'What I do is deadly,' says Ugandan gay journalist

Peterson Ssendi, a gay Ugandan journalist, said in an interview his work is about ‘human rights’.

The radio presenter, 53, gave an interview with English Breakfast radio show in Netherlands where he discussed Uganda’s anti-gay laws and what his experience has been like blogging about LGBT rights.

Ssendi revealed he has received threats for writing publicly about LGBT issues in Uganda since he started his blog in 2004.

He said Radio Simba, where he worked at the time, was fined $1000 (£749) for talking about LGBT issues.

‘They asked us to apologize to the public that we shall not try it again.’

Through his own blog, Ssendi continued to publish his own articles and also re-post news stories from around the world on Uganda’s treatment of the LGBT community.

‘I knew there was no other way I could contribute. As an individual, I chose to start using the internet as means to publicize, as means to teach or educate to the public.

‘The work in the LGBT area is very interesting. I think it’s work where I can contribute to saving of some lives. In my country, it’s deadly, what I do is deadly. But I have to, its about human rights,’ he said.

‘I think what I’m doing is good because the response I get from responsible readers is encouraging. Some people write to me in confidence, to try to say "what you’re doing is perfect. Do not change".’

Despite some positive messages, Ssendi has also seen a hugely negative response to his work.

‘I actually have got threats every time I post something on the blog. I get anonymous calls because they think I shouldn’t do this.’

‘The public does not welcome it in any way. Most of the people think being gay is cursed. Others think it’s criminal. They don’t think gays are people.’

Ssendi said Pentecostals and Evangelists are making it worse for LGBT Ugandans.

‘Our community teamed up with Evangelests to confuse the public that being gay is a game or funded by foreign agencies. They think that you can pay someone to change their way of life. They think that people are getting money to change Africa. The country itself and the religious part, the Pentecostals, have helped people gang against the gays.’

Ssendi said since the death of gay rights activists David Kato, who was murdered in Uganda by hammer wounds to the head, ‘the media all over the world has been watching, but there’s not much that can be done from the outside.

‘they don’t want to think that gays are people that deserve rights and freedoms.’

‘When it comes to the gays, it’s worse, because if one is not recognized by law, he or she does not exist. they can not access health care, a doctor can not attend you when you don’t exist.’


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