While the Anti-Homosexuality Bill from David Bahati languishes in Uganda’s Parliament, LGBT activists dared to declare their pride in public events this weekend.
After months of preparation, and despite arrests, Uganda’s gay community concluded all its planned Pride events, including a beach parade, parties and a film festival. All were well attended by a courageous LGBTI community, considering that Uganda is a country that criminalizes homosexual sex acts and seeks legislation to kill its gays for “aggravated homosexuality” with long prison terms for so-called “promotion of homosexuality.”
Adding to the country’s antigay climate, the Ugandan Minister of Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo faces a court clash with gay rights activists for breaking up a legal meeting at a private hotel resort in Entebbe earlier this year. And the government of Uganda was recently embarrassed by unwarranted arrests of foreign visitors at a meeting held at a private resort to discuss human rights issues.
The international community has shown its support for sexual orientation as a human right with examples such as United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Uganda this past week, when she paid tribute and gave an award to a coalition of human rights defenders for their LGBT advocacy.
The importance of this Pride event cannot be understated. The fact that these brave activists could pull this off in this milieu of persecution is a great victory for the community. Visibility like this notes the ongoing legacy of late activist David Kato, it defies the export of American Evangelical hate, and it helps ensure defeat of the Bahati Bill. It shows leadership for all of Africa, and above all it shows that the LGBT people of Uganda simply refuse to give up their right to exist and to live their natural born sexual orientation.
So in the words of world renowned, award-winning gay activist, Frank Mugisha who proudly attended the weekend Pride: “We did not have a chance to thank the pride organizers, the entire committee and the grand marshal. Thumbs up to you all who made this happen. Next time we begin the march from the police station.”