No call for celebration – Kushaba Moses Mworeko
Editor’s note: Moses has this month received official notice that he has qualified for U.S. asylum, finally. He will post something trying to capture his personal joy soon, but here republished is his post from April when the Ugandan bill was again in flux, showing how important it is to be thinking globally about human rights. Also see Will O’Bryan’s spotlight on Moses today in Metro Weekly and visit Moses’ Global Sexual Freedom Annotated Bibliography in our Library for more information.
Even as Uganda’s government shows it might shelve its “kill the gays” bill, there can be no call for celebration.
The country’s reluctance to move forward is due to the international pressure it has experienced since the bill’s inception and how the country’s image has been tarnished. I can imagine now the millions of dollars it has lost in tourism and other areas because of being referred to as “the world’s worst place to be gay,” collateral damage as one blogger put it.
But more is to be done. It is paramount for the world to know about ther repressive legislation in Parliament now and or already the law in Uganda, such as The Sexual Offences Bill, The Pornography Bill, The HIV AIDS Bill, and The Marriage Bill which prohibits same-sex marriage or cohabitation, and its entire Penal Code is rife with infringements on several basic human rights such as the right to Privacy.
In Ugandan society, the mere introduction of this “kill the gays” bill has actually created a new trigger on how to treat lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people (LGBTI). Since the government has strongly and consistently said that it is illegal for people to be LGBTI, then this gives citizens a strong backup to punish them, feeling they are acting within the constitution’s jurisdiction. This is evident in the case of leading gay activist David Kato’s brutal murder and other murder attempts against his associates. This week alone, the notorious rag sheet in Uganda Rolling Stone, reported two incidents of mob justice against gay men alleging they were killed because one stole a necklace and the other a motorcycle. Now that people believe that homosexuality is the worst of sins, then one can imagine what is likely to happen to LGBTI people. I can imagine a scenario where a gay person is lynched by the community while their family members watch in despair.
Mob Justice Increases as Court Backlogs Escalate by Joshua Kyalimpa covers the supreme court’s order to the media houses in Uganda to cease publishing LGBTI names in newspapers. This brings a temporary sense of relief to the LGBTI community but the actual result is that this has encouraged more mob justice since society seems to think that even if these homosexuals are reported, the courts will not do anything, so the community would rather punish them than report them to the authorities.
The bad seed has been sown by religious extremists and its consequences are now spreading like bush fire across the world. Even in countries where homosexuality has not been talked about, the governments are now pushing for bills that will criminalize the act. This is scary politics. We have a great deal of work to be done. We have to double our efforts like never before.
Frank Mugisha is a leading Ugandan LGBTI activist on the front lines, currently serving as the Executive Director of SMUG, Sexual Minorities of Uganda, believes it one thing for government to stop the bill but without creating laws on hate crimes, there are many dangers we are still faced with. “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 decriminalize homosexuality.”
Mugisha 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 criminalizes homosexuality with a life sentence for consensual sex between adults of the same gender. “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. He 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.”
Working with Team COLUMBIA at venusplusx.org, we have kept updated a Global Sexual Freedom Annotated Bibliography to keep activist and advocates informed and inspired to help bring about laws and protections for persecuted sexual minorities all over the world.