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Could Uganda be finally moving forward on gay rights?

Could Uganda be finally moving forward on gay rights?

Uganda’s anti-gay law is no more, and even the President might be changing his views. Could we finally be moving in the right direction?

President Yoweri Museveni’s recent comments, after the Constitutional Court nullified the law, are right. A bill like this is difficult to pass.

There are clearly so many open LGBTI people in Uganda that criminalizing them all would be a massive headache.

In his comments, he said the law would allow two consenting adults to have sex as they please. I applaud him for this, but I am sceptical of his words based on his previous actions.

This is the time for Museveni to show leadership and prove to Uganda he can defend minorities even though the public may not agree with him. Will it happen? Probably not.

The issue is the courts nullified the law based on parliamentary procedure, and not based on discrimination against a person’s sexuality and gender identity.

If they found that this kind of discrimination is unconstitutional, we would have a far easier fight in ensuring a new law does not return to the parliamentary table.

But we, both Ugandan and international LGBTI rights advocates, must celebrate. We must take this achievement, and continue increasing our visibility, advocacy, litigation, media and physical networking and activism.

This fight has shown the world what LGBTI Ugandans are made of, and because of this we are turning public opinion in our own country. With understanding, comes acceptance.

We have been exposed to all types of inhuman suffering, from discrimination, imprisonment, physical attacks and threats by politicians, religious leaders, musicians and the public at large.

But we have persevered, stayed focused, fearless and worked together.

This year, international allies all over the world have supported Ugandan LGBTI activists. In Toronto, Oslo, Amsterdam, London, San Francisco and most of all in Entebbe, Uganda, we have marched.

The Ugandan flag and the rainbow flag have been raised by the very people fighting for their freedom, and this has helped in raising the level of visibility, awareness and gather support.

The political opposition in Uganda has now jumped on the bandwagon of spreading gay hate in Uganda, and it is for the public to judge whether these members of parliament have their best interests at heart or they are just having their eyes and minds set on ballot papers of the next general elections.

The religious leaders as well respected members of the community can influence a lot of thing in the country that can lead to the betterment of the lives of all Ugandans.

Using religious books to spread hatred towards gay people is ungodly and those not contribute to the betterment of people’s lives.

The nullification of the anti-gay law 2014 does not mean that we are free and legal but it shows that we exist and can challenge injustices, inequalities and illegality of laws.

It is our immediate challenge to challenge other anti-gay laws in Uganda like section 145, 146.148 of the penal code and the ban on same sex relationships 2005 in the constitution.

The way forward is tough but navigable. This is the time for the Ugandan LGBTI to deal with the immediate and future threats.

And then we can help others, and their readily developing anti-gay hate, like in Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

As a matter of urgency, we must prepare for the future challenges.

Even though our achievements may seem short-lived, they have to be our motivation as we pave the way for the future generations.

The world will one day learn from the Ugandan LGBTI community on how to challenge anti-gay laws amidst the hardest of challenges.

Even though the circumstances in other countries are different, there can be excellent lessons that can be learned.

We are here, hopefully, determined and never to be silenced. The struggle continues. Thanks for all your support.

Edwin Sesange is a Ugandan LGBTI rights activist.