Ugandan Member of Parliament to meet for Human Rights Town Hall in San Francisco

A Courageous and Critical Meeting to help USA LGBT Community Get an Insider’s Perspective

San Francisco Africa Leadership Institute
SFALI, Anti-Homosexuality Bill, Uganda, Hon. Nabilah Sempala

San Francisco, August 26, 2014 – The San Francisco Africa Leadership Institute (SFALI) is pleased to announce a Town Hall Forum with Ugandan Member of Parliament, the Hon. Nabilah Naggayi Sempala, to be held at The San Francisco LGBT Community Center.

Hon. Sempala will speak to the complexities surrounding the anti-gay milieu in Uganda, the internal politics and the impact of the anti-gay laws on the myriad of human rights issues facing the country.

In 2009 Ugandan Member of Parliament, David Bahati, introduced a private member bill, The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, dubbed “The Kill the Gays Bill,” which was signed into law in December, 2013.  The controversial Bill, described by President Obama as “odious,” was assented to by President Yoweri Museveni, on February 24, 2014, without the death penalty, but with harsh prison terms of up to life in prison for so called “aggravated homosexuality.”

Soon thereafter Red Pepper magazine, the most widely read newspaper in East Africa published and outed “Uganda’s Top 200 Homos,” and the Ugandan community rallied in the tens of thousands, packing a stadium, to present an award and give thanks to the President for signing the popular legislation. This caused many LGBT people to report incidents described by human rights defenders as persecutory, such as banishment from families, evictions, firings, assaults and even threats of mob violence.

The LGBT community in Uganda fought back and the Constitutional Court struck down the Anti-Homosexuality Act, declaring it invalid, citing that the Speaker of the House, Rebecca Kadaga, had failed to establish a quorum when the Bill was voted upon.

The Court did not rule on the constitutionality of the Act in relation to the human rights arguments brought by the Petitioners, creating the possibility for its reintroduction into the Ugandan Parliament.

Hon. Semapala has endured her share of controversy, having to navigate a climate of male domination and political repression, with complex compromises to hold her seat in parliament. Succumbing to pressure, Hon. Sempala was one of the Ugandan Parliamentarians who recently signed the petition for the reintroduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, with a request that a clause be added to include sodomy by a man with his wife.

In a recent interview with Melanie Nathan, Director of SFALI, who will be hosting the event, Hon. Sempala noted: “ I am asking people to look beyond what they see, to dig deep.  The Church was the biggest promoter of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, yet they did not want to promote the important Marriage Bill that would help women and families. Uganda is extremely patriarchal.  It’s a very tough place to live as much for a woman as it is for a gay person. So much is wrong behind the scenes. Issues cannot be looked at in isolation. We have endured years of political abuse. If you stand up for rights they try to isolate you. Human rights is not selective. We should not see the West focus on only one aspect.”

Melanie Nathan from SFALI said of the event: “As we head into round two of the controversial Anti-Homosexuality bill, we in the West must learn from our mistakes.  We participated in the scapegoating of LGBT Ugandans, by allowing ourselves to focus on the single issue, allowing the politicians to use gays to distract the world from the real ills facing all Ugandans. This is a unique and critical opportunity for us in San Francisco and the U.S.A., to hear from an insider, who has felt extreme pressure to vote for the Bill.  I hope people from the community will join us for a better understanding and contribute with to this important discussion.”

WHAT:  SFALI TOWN HALL | A Ugandan Parliamentarian’s experience with the Anti-Homosexuality Act, Human Rights in Uganda and our role from here on.

WHO: The Hon. Nabilah Naggayi Sempala, in a discussion with Melanie Nathan, Director of SFALI, with S.F. Pride Host and Swirl Radio/TV  Personality Michele Meow as MC. Rebecca Rolfe, Executive Director of the SFL LGBT Community Center will provide the welcoming address.

WHERE: 4th Floor, The San Francisco LGBT Community Center, 1800 Market Street, San Francisco, CA.

WHEN:  5.30 PM  – Thursday September 04, 2014.

ENTRANCE:  Free

Space is limited please RSVP at protectlgbt@gmail.com

 DONATE at the San Francisco LGBT Center http://www.sfcenter.org for tax deductible donation to SAFLI and the SF LGBT Community Center or a non tax deductible donation for humanitarian needs of LGBT Ugandans can be made at paypal via nathan@privatecourts.com, or at the door.

About:
Hon. Naggayi Nabilah Sempala, holds a B.A. and MA in Public Administration. She is a Member of Parliament, in the Republic of Uganda and currently a member of the opposition party, Forum for Democratic Change, (FDC.) She is the shadow Minister for Information, a member on the Sessional Committee of Tourism, Trade and Industry and also a Member Committee on Human Rights. From 2002-2006, she was  a LCV District Councillor, Wakiso District, and also the FDC Secretary for Culture and Religious Affairs. In 2013 at the 50th Independence day celebrations and to mark International Women’s Day, held in Nakasongola District, HE the President of the Republic of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, presented Hon. Sempala with the Golden Jubilee Medal, the highest civilian medal of the Republic of Uganda.

The San Francisco Africa Leadership Institute SFALI is a pilot project, directed by Melanie Nathan, a human rights advocate, former South African Attorney, mediator and former commissioner on Marin Human Rights Commission. SFALI is supported by a grant from the Arcus Foundation. Its goal is to produce forums for dialogue and hold events on global LGBTI issues, to impact decriminalization of sexuality through repeal of anti-homosexuality laws and penal codes.  It also organizes Relief Fund campaigns to provide direct assistance to LGBTI Africans, to supports safe-houses for LGBTI victims of violence and persecution, provides referrals and resources for LGBTQI refugees and asylum seekers; and seeks to influence the reform of laws, public policy and protocols, to include exploring special Persecution Visas for LGBTI people from countries that criminalize homosexuality.   www.sfali.org

The mission of the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Community Center is to connect our diverse community to opportunities, resources and each other to achieve our vision of a stronger, healthier, and more equitable world for LGBT people and our allies. The Center’s strategies inspire and strengthen our community by: fostering greater opportunities for people to thrive, organizing for our future, celebrating our history and culture, building resources to create a legacy for future generations. http://www.sfcenter.org

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San Francisco Africa Leadership Institute
SFALI, Anti-Homosexuality Bill, Uganda, Hon. Nabilah Sempala

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