Uganda and Gay Rights

Author: , April 27th, 2012

Uganda

It is a sad day in our world when we hear about persecutions and threats against people simply because they have a different way of living or belief system. This is abundantly clear in Uganda where gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Ugandans fear for their lives and live in hiding. Homosexual ‘activity’ is illegal under the Penal Code Amendment (Gender References) Act 2000 which changed the wording of, ‘any male’ to ‘any person’, to include women.

The Ugandan authorities will say that it goes against African culture. Yet, there is an estimated, half a million LBGT folks in Uganda.  The government has gone as far as introducing a bill that will sentence LGBT ‘repeat offenders’ to life in prison if convicted. This is not a new law in Uganda; it is an inherited one that has been retained since Uganda was under British colonial rule in the 19th century. The punishment then, was life imprisonment if convicted.

The laws have been cemented with sidebar laws that include prohibition against same sex marriages. This law was signed and included into the Ugandan constitution on September 29th, 2005.

In 2009 another blow hit the LGBT community and the noose tightened. The Uganda Anti Homosexuality Bill was introduced. It dictated that the people of Uganda were to report any homosexual behavior within 24 hours of witnessing it or face 3 years in prison. The Ugandan government would also ask for the extradition of any of its citizens living, working or visiting abroad, who are in a same sex relationship. Unbelievable!! To add insult to injury any individuals or companies who promote LGBT rights would be penalized.

All of this is a gross violation of human rights. LGBT and human rights defenders live in constant fear and rightly so. David Kato founded the Sexual Minorities Uganda organization in 2004 but was beaten to death in January 2011. The fight is still on and the organization has a new leader, Frank Mugisha.

What a pity that a beautiful country such as Uganda is stifled by stringent laws that frighten and threaten its citizens. It is also unfortunately not the only African country with laws against the LGBT community. This link will take you to a fairly comprehensive list of countries in Africa and elsewhere, which highlights their stance on the subject. Scroll down to the title within the article: LGBT-related laws by country or territory. Notice all the pretty green ticks for South Africa, one of the few African countries that is Gay friendly.

Uganda is truly a remarkable country with many attractions that will draw millions of visitors. Such as visits to the endangered mountain gorillas, but unfortunately it is not welcoming to all.

Celeste Wilson is a travel specialist and co-founder of a comprehensive internet guide to travel in Africa. Visit http://www.findtripinfo.com/ to learn more about Africa as a travel destination.