Sex & Gender

feature: uganda’s first gay parade since overturning of the country’s anti homosexuality act

August 14, 2014

In a country where men and women are rampantly named and shamed for same sex orientation, where they face frequent harassment and threats of violence, it comes as a pleasant surprise to see the images that have recently surfaced of Ugandan lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people publicly dancing and laughing on the shores of Lake Victoria – close to the country’s Presidential palace – in what is the country’s first gay parade since the overturning of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA).

By Alexander Aplerku, AFROPUNK Contributor

The AHA law was introduced in February by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, and made it a criminal act for any person to either engage in or to promote homosexuality. Any person found guilty of “homosexual acts” could face jail terms of up to 14 years, and even life sentences in “aggravated” cases: cases involving a HIV positive person, a minor, the disabled or serial offender. Six months after its introduction, this month the constitutional court voted to reject the law; a law which saw the freezing of the country’s internal donations and redirection of government aid based on violations of human rights and democratic principles.

On the heel of the law’s overturning, more than a hundred LGBT activists participated in the parade that took place last Saturday. The organizer Sandra Ntebi, who runs a hotline for the community in Uganda, told the UK’s Guardian Newspaper, “This event is to bring us together. Everyone was in hiding before because of the anti-homosexuality law.” She added, “It is a happy day for all of us, getting together.”

This solidarity will be much needed in the coming months. The government have quickly filed an appeal against the law’s rejection, and MPs have signed a petition for a new vote on the bill. The Ugandan deputy attorney-general Fred Ruhinda recently stated, “We are unsatisfied with the court ruling.” He further stated, “The law was not intended to victimize gay people, it was for the common good.”

With Uganda being staunched in an American style of evangelical Christianity, many in Uganda support Ruhinda’s “common good” justification: the majority of Ugandans encouraged to demonize their LGBT community – as opposed to the law which seeks to ostracize these people for simply being true to themselves.  

Although homosexuality remains illegal in Uganda, it is no longer illegal to promote homosexuality and an obligation to denounce gays to the authorities. As small as it seems, that is indeed a step in the right direction; a step which obviously encouraged these Ugandans to parade OUT and PROUD (images via Buzzfeed).