Ever imagined being branded a criminal for being gay in your own motherland? Well, if you think this sounds like a joke, then think no further.
Let us face the fact, homophobia in a wide range of countries is not only palpable but also extreme in every sense. To take an example of Uganda where I grew up from as a law abiding citizen, I couldn’t help but was rather blinded by the preposterous ignorance deeply embedded within the county’s multicultural society. However, until I started living in an open-minded society, United Kingdom, that perspective began to take another route. It’s when I realized that my motherland, Uganda still has a long road to walk. I now have somewhat a much better and clearer understanding of what it means to be gay in a country that clings tightly on deep rooted tradition.
We all know that the month of December means so much to us as we get to catch up with our dear ones; friends and families. We all look forward to sharing that festive season but above all Christmas meal with our families but unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the fact amongst the Ugandan LGBTI community.
Passing a harsh anti-gay law as a Christmas gift in the name of celebrating Christmas is not what you would call an ideal Christmas gift in this regard if you belong to the LGBTI community like me. Well, to anyone who thinks this is funny, I am sorry to say that you may not be far from Uganda’s parliamentary set committee that’s is on its toes ready to pass a new, even more harsh and draconian anti-gay law in time as a Christmas gift to all Ugandans.
Of course there was some sort of relief amongst Uganda’s LGBTI community when the country’s constitutional court overturned the earlier Anti-Homosexuality law in August on the grounds that the parliament had passed it without the required quorum. Unfortunately that relief has not lived for so long, in fact as soon as the law was annulled, influential evangelicals strongly rallied behind Ugandan legislators and consistently urged them to reintroduce the law. Just like most sub-Saharan Africa, Uganda is a fundamentally religious and conservative society and therefore, such religious leaders are squarely as influential as the members of parliament.
According to Abdul Latif Ssebagala a member of a parliamentary committee formed to effect the new legislation, said a new version of the bill was ready to present to the parliament for debate. He further stressed that the new bill has been strengthened especially in areas of ‘inducing’ and ‘promoting’ homosexuality and added that the committee wanted it passed within weeks so that Ugandans, ‘can celebrate it as a Christmas gift.’ Really, Uganda a country that is engulfed with homophobic fervor that gay people and gay rights activists like Kelly Mukwano are getting homophobic attacks is not what you would call an ideal destination place.
When Gay DJ Scott Mills traveled to Uganda a few years ago, he spoke with people on the streets of Kampala – the capital city, asking their opinion on homosexuals, and some of the responses were, ‘I hate them;’ ‘they should be killed,’ and ‘it’s disgusting.’
Prevention is better than cure, it is true that the Ugandan LGBTI community lives in limbo and we must do something to stop this new proposed bill. As an LGBTI rights campaigner, together with members of the African LGBTI Out and Proud Diamond Group, we request you all to stand in #SolidaritywithUgandaLGBTI and sign a petition urging the parliament and the president of Uganda not to introduce a new bill (#StopUgandaantigaybill2004).