“When you live in a homophobic country its is impossible to report even a violent crime perpetrated against you because you will be the one who is arrested!” Ugandan Gay Man
A day ago Let’s Walk Uganda (LWU), a local LGBTQI support group was attacked by a screaming mob at the organization’s headquarters. Although a prominent human rights organization HRAPF was immediately called in to push for police protection. When the police arrived the mob fled and sixteen members of the group were arrested for being gay, subjected to painful forced anal examinations and will also now face charges of alleged “human trafficking.”
Anal Exams are a recognized form of torture and discriminatingly used against those suspected of being homosexual, in an attempt to secure evidence to convict under the Colonial Penal Code which criminalizes same-sex acts. Despite objections, we are told, the police at Nsangi Police Station went ahead with the unconstitutional and unlawful examinations. We have yet to find out which Ugandan doctors or medical staff agreed to this abhorrent act of torture. When we find out all names of those involved we will submit them to the U.S. State Department to ensure VISA bans to U.S. medical conferences etc. We will also ensure that those involved in this cruel human rights abuse are referred to international criminal tribunals.
To charge members of a legally registered LGBTI support group with “human trafficking” in the course of their mission, where they may well aid people to escape so called reparative therapies, corrective rape and family beatings, is in effect an insidious attempt to shut down all services and support for LGBTQI people in the country. Clearly human rights organizations are operating in an oppressed and dangerous environment, and are at great risk in carrying out their missions.
This particular group has been raided by the Ugandan police in the past and this clearly another orchestrated attack is tantamount to an attack on all members of the LGBTQI community. Back in 2016, Ugandan police themselves raided the group and others at a Pride event in Uganda, as has occurred on many occasions.
LWU, established in 2016, has operated legally in Uganda, despite accusations of so called “promotion of homosexuality.” It was established to support the LGBTI youth in the country so as to strengthen their quest for equality and to ensure constant availability and full access to resources.
More specifically, LWU’s objectives. a) To improve access to income generating opportunities for the jobless LGBT youth. b) To promote welfare of LGBT youth by providing shelter and other welfare services to LGBT youth that have been rejected by their families c) To provide legal entity services to LGBT youth. d) To promote LGBT advocacy. e) To promote the role of the LGBT youth in the development of the LGBT community and nation at large. f) To promote friendly relations with any other companies, institutions, societies or associations having objectives altogether or in part similar to those of the organization. g) To improve communication and the accessibility of information revolving around LGBT rights and LGBT inclusiveness in LGBT communities.
And of special importance is what LWU notes in its messaging:
“It’s time we break every chain of stigma, discrimination, violence, verbal attacks, family rejection, discriminatory Laws, stereo typing, harassments among others because 95% of LGBT Youth suffer social isolation and these chains are keeping them prisoners inside and that why a good number of them are psychologically tortured and commit suicide. It is sad because I believe that together me and you we can make a different choice other than spreading hate and animosity.”
#Support_LetsWalkUganda #BreakEveryChain @LWUGANDA
Uganda is one of 32 African countries which criminalize homosexuality for LGBTI people, while relying on its old Colonial Penal Codes which refer to “Acts against the order of nature” as punishable by prison time. Back in December 2013 Uganda’s parliament passed what was the the Anti-Homosexuality Act- known as The Kill the Gays Bill. President Yoweri Museveni signed the Bill into law in 2014 and it was then invalidated by the Courts, based on a technicality – as the Parliament passed the Act without the requisite quorum.
The week preceding this mob attacked, with two recent high profile gay murders in Uganda, it is clear that the gay community is now under physical attack, and probably directly linked to two recent political incidents where: The Minister of Security in Uganda, Minister Elly Tumwine, said on National TV that Gays were part of a cabal with a terrorist agenda; and the Minister of Integrity and Ethics Simon Lokodo promised to bring the Anti-Homosexuality Act back into the Ugandan Parliament; and
All this couched in years of ongoing governmental hostility and threats, to include raids on LGBTQI people, keeps Uganda’s gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual and intersex residents under siege.
While officials are now denying intent to bring back ‘The Kill the Gays Bill,’ they cannot walk back its dog whistle impact – now clearly evidenced by the mob attack on LWU and the recent spate of brutal murderous attacks, reflected below: The two recent murders, which I attribute directly to the spread of the above homophobia, were reported here on this blog – as follows:
Today in the morning our member of the Angel Support organization was beaten to death in front of our offices. The office was called by phone with the threat “we will kill you all.” HERE
Can Gay Man’s Murder in Uganda be Linked to Security Minister’s TV Scapegoating of LGBTI People, Posted on Melanie Nathan
Sadly a member of Uganda’s gay community was hacked in a brutal assault by an homophobic straight person, using a hoe to his head, and the young gay man did not survive his injuries. HERE
The LGBTI Ugandan community is in deep fear and many are scrambling for more secure living circumstances and safe shelter. Unfortunately this is not guarantee of safety and certainly no way to live one’s life. Uganda is one of the few countries on the African Continent with a robust LGBTQI activist community attempting change.
Many LGBTQI people fled Uganda in the past several years to escape ongoing familial, community and government persecution, and many have been resettled through UNHCR to the USA, Canada and other countries. Asylum seekers try to reach US soil of their own accord undertaking perilous journeys to the U.S. Southern border. Only a few are able to qualify for VISAS and afford flights into U.S. airports. There is no safe, affordable or sensible path for LGBTQI people to exile. LGBTI refugees in neighboring countries are subject to further persecution by hostile host countries, such as Kenya,(which also criminalizes gays) and South Africa (which has a fully equal Constitution for gays), though charged with protection through the UNHCR system, continue to fail at such.
The take home from all this is that Government officials must start to put the safety and well being of all citizens and residents in Uganda, to include refugees, ahead of stigma and hate and start to protect the victims of violence instead of arrest them. The Ugandan Government must cease these oppressive and illegal tactics such as forced anal exams. Let us hope lawsuits will follow and the exams are ruled a violation of the Constitutional rights of those tortured. But in the meantime the 16 young people are facing serious, albeit trumped up, charges.
The Sixteen members of LWU are in dire need of support, as are others now on the run in Uganda. African HRC will be helping with funds for the needs of the victims. Kindly donate to www.africanHRC.org/donate