Showing posts with label Uganda. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Uganda. Show all posts

November 3, 2016

Ugandans Emphasize Police Use Torture to Proof Homosexuality









It was early in the morning when Jackson Mukasa was awakened by the chants outside his Kampala home. 
"The homos are in there!" the crowd yelled, banging spoons on metal cooking pots. 
Mukasa, a 21-year-old gay man living in the Ugandan capital, was terrified. 
"We opened the door, and there were police and people everywhere. The local councilman was there, yelling 'Out with the homos! You are scaring people in the area.' I still have scars from the beatings that followed," Mukasa said. 
It was January 2014. After being beaten by the mob, the police took Mukasa and a male friend staying with him in for questioning, he said. 
They were both subjected to forced anal examinations, said Mukasa. 
"We were questioned, beaten again, forced to admit to homosexuality. They took us to … (a) clinic in Kampala where we were examined," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. 
"It is so painful. The doctor puts a machine up your rectum. It hurts so much, and there is blood," he said in a phone interview.  

Photo taken on February 14, 2010 shows Ugandans taking part in an anti-gay demonstration at Jinja, Kampala. Trevor Snapp / AFP/Getty Images

ILLEGAL
Uganda is one of 36 countries in Africa where homosexuality is illegal, and one of eight countries globally where Human Rights Watch has compiled evidence of the use of forced anal examinations to "prove" homosexuality. 
Emilian Kayima, a Kampala police spokesman, denied that forced examinations took place. 
"We do not need anal examination to prove a person is gay. When we arrest gay people, we take them to the courts of law because what they are engaging in is illegal under the laws of Uganda," Kayima told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. 
"If any gay person claims they have been tortured or forced to undergo anal examination, they need to come forward with evidence stating when and where it happened instead of running to the press to make baseless claims," Kayima added. 
The Ugandan health ministry declined to answer questions from the Thomson Reuters Foundation. 
However, local rights campaigners and Human Rights Watch say Mukasa is one of several victims of forced anal examinations in the east African country. They say while the practice is used ostensibly to prevent the transmission of HIV, it is merely a form of discrimination and abuse. 
Uganda lawyer Nicholas Opiyo is preparing a constitutional case to ban forced anal examinations. He believes the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act is used illegally, as an excuse to "prove" homosexuality. 
"They are using the law as an excuse to carry out the examinations. We want them banned," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation from Kampala in a phone interview. 
"In all the cases we have dealt with, people are arrested and taken to certain clinics," he said, describing how Mukasa's case was typical. 
DEHUMANIZE
Like most of sub-Saharan Africa, Uganda is highly religious and socially conservative. Violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people is common and politicians have long tried to pass legislation that denies basic rights to the LGBT community. 
A law passed more than two years ago, punishing gay sex with long prison terms, provoked an international storm of protest and led some donor countries to withhold aid. 
The constitutional court overturned the law - formerly known as the "Kill the Gays" bill because a first draft included the death penalty for gay sex - on a technicality in August 2014. 
Cases like Mukasa's are not designed to get LGBT people convicted in court, according to Opiyo. "The examinations aren't used as evidence, they are used as a tool to dehumanize and stigmatize," he said. 
Mukasa, who used to work in a restaurant, said police and authorities made no attempt to hide his identity. "I cannot walk the street, I cannot get medicine, I do not have any money and cannot claim benefits because I am a homosexual," he said. 
According to experts such examinations have no validity, either legally or medically. 
"There is absolutely no value in such examinations for this purpose," Vincent Iacopino, medical director at Physicians for Human Rights, said by phone from the United States. 
He said the examinations were unethical, harmful, and in some cases, torture. 
Asger Kjaerum, advocacy director at the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, agreed. "These practices lack both scientific value and violate international standards on the ban of torture and ill-treatment," he said in an email from Copenhagen. 
SURGE OF EXAMINATIONS
Homosexuality was banned in Uganda in 1952. In recent years, assaults against LGBT people have been on the rise, according to Human Rights Watch, fueled by the anti-gay policies of President Yoweri Museveni's government. 
"Heated discourse around the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act and its draconian provisions appears to have led to an increase in harassment of persons perceived to be LGBT by civilians and the police alike," Neela Ghoshal, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in a report this year. 
Human rights lawyer Opiyo is currently preparing his case, and expects to file it within the coming months. "Anal examinations are a form of torture, a violation of the Ugandan Constitution, the African Charter, and international human rights. We want them banned," he said. 
"If the court declares the practice unconstitutional, the examinations will be unlawful, meaning anyone engaged in performing the examinations could be sued," he said. 
Mukasa's case was eventually dismissed due to lack of evidence, but he says he feels convicted, and is serving a sentence - albeit out of jail. 
He has changed his identity since the case, and is now living in a shelter, isolated from family and friends. 
"I have lost my job because of the case," he said. "People know who I am, I can't leave my house. I cannot get a taxi, I cannot get a job, all because of the case.”

Reuters
nbcnews.com

August 6, 2016

Ugandan Police Attack Gay Pageant Event


                                                                       

Ugandan police unlawfully raided an event late in the evening of August 4, 2016, the third night of a week of Ugandan LGBTI Pride celebrations, brutally assaulting participants, seven human rights groups said today.
The event was a pageant in Kampala’s Club Venom to crown Mr/Ms/Mx Uganda Pride. Police claimed that they had been told a “gay wedding” was taking place and that the celebration was “unlawful” because police had not been informed of the event. However, police had been duly informed, and the prior two Pride events, on August 2 and 3, were conducted without incident.
“We strongly condemn these violations of Ugandans’ rights to peaceful association and assembly,” said Nicholas Opiyo, a human rights lawyer and executive director at Chapter Four Uganda. “These brutal actions by police are unacceptable and must face the full force of Ugandan law.”

The police locked the gates of the club, arrested more than 16 people – the majority of whom are Ugandan LGBT rights activists – and detained hundreds more for over 90 minutes, beating and humiliating people; taking pictures of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) Ugandans and threatening to publish them; and confiscating cameras. Witnesses reported that the police assaulted many participants, in particular transgender women and men, in some cases groping and fondling them. One person jumped from a sixth-floor window to avoid police abuse and is in a hospital in critical condition.

By approximately 1:20 a.m., all those arrested had been released without charge from the Kabalagala Police Station. This episode of police brutality did not happen in isolation, the groups said. It comes at a time of escalating police violence targeting media, independent organizations, and the political opposition.

“Any force by Ugandan police targeting a peaceful and lawful assembly is outrageous,” said Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), who was among those arrested. “The LGBTI community stands with all Ugandan civil society movements against police brutality.”

“The Ugandan government should condemn violent illegal actions by police targeting the LGBTI community and all Ugandans,” said Asia Russell at Health GAP. “The US and all governments should challenge President Museveni to intervene immediately and hold his police force accountable.”

LGBTI Ugandans routinely face violence, discrimination, bigotry, blackmail, and extortion. The unlawful government raid on a spirited celebration displays the impunity under which Ugandan police are operating. “The state has a duty to protect all citizens’ enjoyment of their rights, including the right to peacefully assemble to celebrate Pride Uganda,” said Hassan Shire, executive director at Defend Defenders. “A swift and transparent investigation should be conducted into last night’s unacceptable demonstration of police brutality.”

Activists called on the governments to immediately and publicly condemn the raid and to take swift disciplinary action against those responsible for the gross violations of rights and freedoms. The organizers said that Pride Uganda celebrations will continue as planned, with a celebration on August 6.

“Our pride and resilience remain steadfast despite these horrible and shameful actions by Ugandan police,” said Clare Byarugaba of Chapter Four Uganda.

“Celebrating with LGBTI people and demonstrating solidarity in calling for their rights to be respected is as basic a show of free expression and association under human rights law as you can get,” said Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Ugandan authorities should not only refrain from trying to stop such activities, but they have binding legal obligations to ensure others do not interfere in this fundamental exercise of basic rights.” 


April 30, 2016

Shocking Report on Ugandan Treatment of LGBT


                                                                          \A Ugandan woman holds a placard as she takes part in an anti-gay demonstration in Jinja, Kampala.                                                                          



  
 The ground-breaking report: And That’s How I Survived Being Killed, reveals the violence, humiliation and wide range of human rights abuses LGBT Ugandan’s have to endure.

Sexual Minorities Uganda have released a shocking report detailing beatings, forced anal examination and persecution experienced by the LGBT community in the country.

In addition to 264 verified cases of human rights abuses against sexual and gender minorities in Uganda, the report also features testimony from LGBT citizens who have experienced first hand the violence and persecution behind the statistics.
Asiimwe, 26, who lives in the central Ugandan town of Bukomansimbi, told researchers that he made a date with another man after meeting online.

“It all started by someone sending me a friend request on Facebook who later called me out for a date and to sleep over,” Asiimwe explained.

“On my arrival at the guy’s place I found a bottle of wine on the table. But when I was drinking other two guys entered the house and sat down and then my date called me in the bedroom and started asking me where I learnt to become gay. And then I just kept quiet.”

What happened next put Asiimwe’s life in serious danger: “The guy changed attitude and started shouting calling his friends in the bedroom to see how a gay man looks like,” he reccalled.

“They came and started beating me up telling me to give them money so that they let me free but I didn’t have money on me, they continued to beat me up seriously and then threatened to burn me. I shouted for help but no one was coming and it was 1:00 am.

“Fortunately the last in the neighborhood heard and she came into the house and asked them why are they were beating me up. They responded that I am a homosexual. Then she told them to let me go then she held my hand and took me out gave me first aid and called a boda guy to take me home and that’s how I survived being killed.”

Asiimwe isn’t the only one who has had to endure extreme violence because of his sexuality, In January, 2015 Daniel [not his real name], was arrested for “engaging in crimes against the order of nature.” He was tied up with rope, beaten, and forced to walk through town along with his friends Ssali and Emmanuel.

He told researchers: “While in prison we were denied visitors because we are a “sodomy case.” I was beaten by fellow citizens. Ssali and myself suffered a lot. When they were beating us they said, “a sensible man how can you sleep with a fellow man?” And when in hospital we were forced to take HIV tests and anal tests.”

As well as detailing arrests, expulsions and beatings, the report also catalogues and highlights four main areas of human rights violations. These include 132 reported cases of physical threats and violence between May 2014 and December 2015, 103 evictions, exclusions and loss of property and 24 cases of termination of employment in the same time period. When the healthcare human rights violations are included, this produces a total of 264 reported cases against the LGBT community in 18 months. That’s an average of 14 violations a day.

Frank Mugisha, Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda [SMUG] said: “This report demonstrates the vast array of human rights abuses which stem from Uganda’s state-sanctioned homophobia and transphobia.

“The Ugandan state deems LGBT people as less than human, and as a result that is how we are treated; by the landlords, by employers, by healthcare professionals, even by our families. These testimonies make it abundantly clear that the situation for LGBT people in Uganda has not improved, despite the Anti-Homosexuality Act being struck down.

“As long as Uganda continues to have laws that make LGBT Ugandans criminals, we will continue to be victims of these abuses.”

As well as calling on the Ugandan government to do more to protect its LGBT citizens the organisation also calls on the UK’s Forign and Commonwealth office to review the report and act on it.

Jonathan Cooper, Chief Executive of Human Dignity Trust, also commented on the report, saying: “Criminalisation means the full force of the state is levied against LGBT people. The law sets norms, it determines attitudes.

“These laws are therefore principally to blame for the myriad of atrocious human rights abuses SMUG evidence in this important document. This multi-faceted persecution arises from homophobic and transphobic attitudes, which are permitted, and often encouraged, by politicians, state officials, and, of course, the law.”


You can read the full report, And That’s How I Survived Being Killed, at sexualminoritiesuganda.com

January 19, 2016

American Pastor Sued by Ugandan Gays for Inciting Violence



                                                                       
 Scott Lively

An American pastor is publicly appealing for donations after experiencing “major financial hardship” as the result of a lawsuit in which he is accused of inciting violence and discrimination against the Ugandan gay community.

In a Dec. 28 post on his website, Scott Lively, an American pastor, lawyer, and president of Abiding Truth Ministries, appealed for support to continue running his ministry. Lively said in a subsequent post that he’s “paid a heavy price” for his work “exposing and opposing the now-global homosexual movement” in countries like Uganda, and facing off against an “enormously wealthy and powerful international homosexual network.”

In the federal lawsuit against him, first filed in Massachusetts in 2012, the Ugandan group Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), accuses the well-known pastor of a crime against humanity for allegedly inspiring a movement aimed at stripping away the rights of the Ugandan lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community using legal, political, and social persecution.
Lively is being represented pro-bono by Liberty Counsel, a legal firm that also represents Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk who was jailed after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples last year. Despite this support, Lively says the lawsuit is threatening the future of his ministry, writing that “SMUG v Lively is truly a David v Goliath battle.”

The suit was filed under the Alien Tort Statute, a legal tool which allows foreign citizens to sue in US courts for violations of international law. It is headed to a Massachusetts district court this fall and will be the first federal crimes against humanity trial dealing with the persecution of sexual minorities abroad—a precedent that Ugandan gay rights activists hope could stop the influence of Western religious extremism in Africa.
SMUG is being represented pro-bono by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York.

An activist holds a banner during a gay rights protest outside Uganda House in Trafalgar Square, in London December 10, 2009.(Reuters/Stefan Wermuth)
Uganda is one of at least 34 African countries where same-sex sexual acts are illegal, mandating life imprisonment for anyone who engages in “carnal knowledge” (i.e. sexual intercourse) “against the order of nature,” according to its Penal Code Act.
Pam Spees, senior staff attorney at the CCR, said in a statement that Lively found support in Uganda with “a very specific and detailed methodology for stripping away the most basic human rights protections, to silence and ultimately disappear LGBT people.”
SMUG and CCR cite Lively’s work in Uganda since 2002, in particular his participation in an anti-gay conference in Uganda in 2009, and public “fear-mongering” of the gay community, including statements that homosexuals sexually abuse children and “recruit” minors for gay activities.

Additionally, Lively is accused in the lawsuit of collaborating with Ugandan religious and political leaders to craft the 2009 Anti-Homosexuality Bill. (His legal team denies this characterization.)
The 2009 legislation, nicknamed the “Kill the Gays” bill, called for the death penalty for acts of “aggravated homosexuality,” including repeated, consensual sex with same-gender partners. It also required citizens to report suspected homosexuals as well as those involved in LGBT advocacy, or the “promotion of homosexuality.”
The bill provoked an outcry from the international community, prompting Western donors—including the United States—to pull about $118 million in aid to Uganda. A revised version of the bill, which imposed life imprisonment for “aggravated homosexuality,” was struck down for procedural reasons in August 2014. Ugandan lawmakers are reportedly looking into resurrecting the legislation.
While Uganda’s anti-sodomy law dates back to British colonial rule, Frank Mugisha, SMUG’s executive director, believes that targeted violence against the gay and transgender community quickly escalated after Lively and local pastors began an anti-homosexuality crusade in Uganda more than a decade ago.

“Before, there was [name calling] and people disagreeing with homosexuality in general, but we didn’t have the idea of a ‘gay agenda’,” said Mugisha. “That exportation of hatred is something new in Uganda.”
A July 2015 report by a consortium of Ugandan human rights groups documented 89 violations against Ugandans based on their sexual orientation in 2014, including “increased mob attacks, family rejection, evictions and media outings.” A number of the recorded violations were perpetrated, or supported, by police, the consortium found.

A man identifying himself as a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community participates in a parade in Entebbe, southwest of Uganda’s capital Kampala, August 8, 2015(Reuters/Edward Echwalu)
The report cited the influence of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, saying that since its introduction in parliament in 2009, human rights violations against the LGBT community had increased. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International documented similar violations in a 2014 report.
SMUG argues that Lively’s characterization of the LGBT community, such as stating gays are more likely to sexually abuse children, escalated acts of discrimination, including an increased number of arbitrary arrests, house raids, and public outings of gay Ugandans by the local press, according to the complaint.
“In a way, violence toward LGBT people in Uganda has almost been normalized,” Mugisha said.

Lively asserts his work in Uganda is protected under the First Amendment right to free speech. His legal team also contests allegations in the lawsuit that he assisted in the shaping of Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill.
“Scott Lively is even more confident today than he was at the beginning of the case that he will be vindicated and that this case will be exposed as a frivolous enterprise that it is,” Horatio “Harry” Mihet, senior litigation counsel with Liberty Counsel, said.
Mihet added that “SMUG has no evidence to prove its allegations,” which he says were crafted on a “cleverly devised a false and fictional narrative.”
Both parties agree SMUG vs. Lively will likely set a precedent for future cases involving the persecution of sexual minorities abroad.

“Being the first case of its kind, it’s likely to have an impact, which is why it’s so important for the right of American citizens to speak their conscience worldwide,” said Mihet.
Regardless of the outcome of SMUG v. Lively, Mugisha hopes activists will be able to pursue legal action against other religious leaders and Ugandan politicians accused of being involved in hate speech and the anti-gay legislation.
“Our war is how we get foreign extreme Christians from exporting hate speech,” Mugisha said. “If we can reduce the hate trade from the missionaries then we definitely will reduce the violence against the LGBT community.”


Complaint against Scott Lively

"The Ugandan government had declared war on LGBT people – first it wanted to introduce the death penalty for homosexuality, and when that didn’t work it settled for life imprisonment. There’s been a raft of US preachers supporting the Ugandan government’s cause and now SMUG has filed a case against evangelical Christian preacher Scott Lively on the grounds that he has incited the persecution of homosexuals.
Lively has said that he preached nothing but the Gospel when he was in Uganda. Nevertheless, he is being sued under the “Alien Tort Statute”. This enables non-US citizens to sue Americans in US courts if they are accused of breaking international laws.
Lively is part of the ex-gay movement and believes, of course, that homosexuality is a choice, and something of which the sinner can be “cured”. He works for Abiding Truth Ministries, which is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. He is also the author of, among other fruity titles, a book called The Pink Swastika (1996). This argues that a certain amount of Nazis were gay, and that the gay man is a natural fascist who would take away your rights if you give him half a chance, that sort of thing. Actual historians have dismissed it as nothing more than hot air. Nevertheless, Lively aims to take away LGBT rights before the gay man takes away everyone else’s. Or something like that.
Lively is accused of conspiring with religious and political leaders in Uganda to promote anti-gay hysteria based on the ideas put forward in his writings. It is an important case because it sends a signal about how to legally oppose the increasing amount of US Right Wing Christians who are taking their sideshow on the road and poisoning the rest of the world.         [Polari Magazine]

December 5, 2015

The Pope Talks About Christian Martyrs inUganda but Forgot the Gays Which are Being Persecuted NOW


LGBT was not in the mind of this Pastor, teacher (as he calls himself) in Uganda

                                                                            
 This a Christian who may be gay may be not but was killed by ISIs. Uganda only wants it for Gays. Wouldn’t that be a nail on Christ when you judge your fellow h u m a n not by crime but by whom they are as humans.

(LifeSiteNews) – What our readers have been telling me they like about LifeSite is that nobody else is reporting what we report.

A great example was this week’s true story of the Ugandan martyrs, which came up when Pope Francis visited Uganda but which the Pope barely touched on. The true story is that the King Mwanga II of Buganda – what is today southern Uganda – killed 45 or 47 of the country’s first Christian converts (roughly half were Catholic and half Anglican) in his royal court because they rejected his homosexual advances.

Pope Francis isn’t the only one who left out this obvious but inconvenient truth. So did news organizations both liberal and conservative. The very liberal National Catholic Reporter glossed over the homosexual aspect, saying the martyrs were “burned alive for their faith under a persecution by a local king.” The National Catholic Register and the Catholic Herald in Britain, both conservative, also left out the homosexual aspect.

GetReligion.org, which reports on the mainstream news media’s coverage of religious issues, found one secular news organization that  got it right: CBS-AP. Get Religion faulted two of the most reputable for leaving out the homosexual angle: the New York Times and the BBC.

Since it’s right there in Wikipedia for even a lazy reporter to find, and since a story mixing religion and aberrant sexuality ought to be an easy call for any journalist, and since the African Church’s persistent hostility to homosexuality is a hot issue currently, this omission begs for an explanation.

The reason, I believe, is that the story doesn’t fit the prevailing narrative, which is that Africa’s “homophobia” is an import from Evangelical America. This I first encountered in 2010 at a lecture on Uganda’s then unpassed but highly controversial anti-homosexuality legislation. Giving the talk was a local professor whose topic was “Politics and the ‘Word of God’: Tangled Webs of Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill.”

In a voice dripping with condescension, the professor portrayed Ugandan mainstream Christianity (Catholic and Anglican) as primitive, emotional, and childlike. Ugandan “Christianity seems to have bypassed the Enlightenment and the Reformation,” he told us, making it clear that this was definitely a Bad Thing, because it meant that Scripture, in Uganda, would not be subjected to Reason.

Because of the Ugandans’ alleged guileless immaturity, the professor continued, they were easy marks for Yankee Evangelical Christians peddling homophobia. And while it is true that several important American Evangelicals – Scott Lively of Abiding Truth Ministries and Don Schmierer of Exodus did give workshops in Uganda warning religious leaders, quite justifiably, of the U.S.-led campaign to normalize homosexuality worldwide – what the learned professor left out was…well, the Ugandan martyrs.

Why? My guess is because those martyrs gave the lie to his presumption that the poor dear Ugandan Christians could not have come by their anti-homosexuality naturally or, more accurately, indigenously. It had to be an American import. This ignores not only the martyrs, but the inescapable fact that all across middle Africa, there has long been and is now a strong aversion to homosexuality in places the Americans never visited.

The professor had another putdown for Uganda. Noting that its leaders were vowing to set an example to the world by resisting the homosexual juggernaut with their tough law, he mocked them gently for thinking their little country could show the world anything.

So this professor not only left out the martyrs (as he later admitted to me, because he wasn’t sure it was important), but also somehow missed the Ugandan miracle: the country’s controversial success in turning back another juggernaut, not unrelated to homosexuality – the AIDS epidemic. Here Uganda had shown the world, and the world did its best to cover what the little country had to show.

While the rest of Africa adopted a three-part approach that was unsuccessful, based on risk reduction with condoms, testing, and drug treatment, Uganda developed its own ABC campaign, for abstinence, being faithful, and condoms if necessary.

The AIDS establishment, led by American homosexuals, pushed a methodology that stayed away from both traditional morality and behavior modification, because the Africans were deemed incapable of changing their innate promiscuity. But condom campaigns in Africa, honest observers were admitting, did not so much prevent infection as encourage multiple partners, whether or not condoms were worn (and frequently they weren’t, and aren’t, even available).

But in Uganda, the government teamed up with the churches and mosques and promoted behavior consistent with Christian and Islamic morality: no sex before marriage, and fidelity within it (“zero grazing” was how it was cleverly phrased for this pastoral people). Condoms were added as the final method not so much as an afterthought, but as a sop to the international aid agencies, for whom condoms had assumed sacramental status and who controlled the purse strings.

Uganda reduced AIDS prevalence in adults from 15% to 5%, a turnaround unparalleled in Africa. But with a third of the country’s GDP coming from foreign aid, it had to bow to the AIDS establishment eventually, sending its prevalence rate climbing to 9%.

Why is the AIDS establishment so opposed to behavior modification? Many homosexuals identify their sexuality with specific unnatural practices. They argue that giving them up would be an admission that there is something wrong with or abnormal about the practices (which certainly make it easier for men get AIDS).

This has turned into an article of faith: nobody should change his basic sexual practices to fight AIDS.

Just as the Iron Curtain once descended over Europe, in Winston Churchill’s immortal phrase, now a veil of silence is falling over public discourse, cloaking all negative references to homosexuality – in scholarship, in politics, in public health policy and foreign aid, and even in the Catholic press. No facts can stand in the way of the LGBTQ march toward normalization and celebrity.

June 11, 2015

Ugandan Academy of Science Endorses Being Gay as a “Natural Phenomena"







The Ugandan National Academy of Sciences (Unas) has endorsed a report that says homosexuality and gender and sexual diversity are natural phenomena, which contradicts Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s stance that homosexuality is abnormal and should be outlawed. Unas and the Academy of Sciences of South Africa (Assaf) are the only academies of science in Africa to endorse the report. 
Uganda is one of a number of countries in Africa where homosexuality is a crime. At the moment, consensual adult sexual conduct with someone of the same sex is illegal in 76 countries, with a death sentence in seven countries: Iran, Mauritania, parts of Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Although the World Health Organisation declassified homosexuality as an illness or disorder in 1990, there is still a widespread perception that there is something unnatural about being gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex, and that this is “unAfrican”.
The report, entitled Diversity in Human Sexuality: Implications for Policy in Africa and published by Assaf, was formulated by 13 experts to answer whether sexual diversity is unnatural and “unAfrican”, if it can be “corrected”, whether children are at risk from association with homosexuals and if there are benefits to outlawing same-sex sexual acts, among a number of other questions.
The report, based on the latest scientific evidence, found that:
  • Gender identity (what gender a person identifies as), gender expression (how they demonstrate their gender), biological sex (which ranges from female sexual organs through intersex to male sexual organs) and sexual orientation (who a person is physically, spiritually and emotionally attracted to) is part of a continuum and that no positions on this spectrum are “unnatural”.
  • There can be no justifications to “eliminate” lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons from society.
  • Sociobehavioural research shows that people do not feel that they have a choice in their sexuality.
  • Conservative estimates put global prevalence of people who identify as homosexual at 5%, with no evidence that this percentage is any lower in African countries. About 50-million people in Africa – just less than the population of South Africa – are estimated to be homosexual.
  • Sexuality is not linked to the way parents bring up their children and sexual orientation cannot be “acquired” through the people with whom you associate.
  • Tolerance of sexual orientation was found to positively impact societies’ public health, civil society and long-term economic growth, and repression was found to negatively affect the general population’s health.
  • Repressive laws pertaining to sexual orientation cause major harm to public health systems and the population’s health through lack of access to healthcare for homosexuals, lack of information, particularly in the areas of HIV, TB and STI, and result in mental health problems for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals because of the stigma and repression that they experience.
  • People are not homosexual because of childhood sexual abuse.
  • Same-sex orientation cannot be changed through “reparative” or “conversion” therapy.
“We wanted a rational approach to this very irrational response [by African governments] to gender and sexual diversity,” Dr Glenda Gray told the Mail & Guardian ahead of the report’s release at the 7th South Africa Aids Conference in Durban on Wednesday night.
“[The aim] was to unequivocally make the statement that gender and sexual diversity [are] a normal variant of life,” said Gray, who is the head of the Medical Research Council and on the consensus panel. “We realised that it has to come from Africa and African scientists have to be involved in it, otherwise it will be rejected as something from the ‘West’.”
But the fact that this report originates in South Africa – despite the endorsement by Unas – means that it is likely to be ignored by politicians in Uganda, and possibly other policymakers on the continent. Dr Sylvia Tamale, a prominent academic and founder of the Law, Gender and Sexuality Research Project in Uganda, says: “I highly doubt that it will influence policymakers. The fact that it was developed by Assaf is also significant as it’ll give policymakers the usual excuse to dismiss it as a report influenced by whites,” Tamale says.
Museveni, in a letter to his Parliament last year, allegedly wrote: “You cannot call an abnormality an alternative orientation. It could be that the Western societies, on account of random breeding, have generated many abnormal people … The question at the core of the debate on homosexuality is what do we do with an abnormal person? Do we kill him/her? Do we imprison him/her? Or we do contain him/her?”
But the report “finds no reason to believe that prevalence of sexualities outside of the heterosexual is any different in Africa to anywhere else”, says Dr Jason van Niekerk, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of jurisprudence at the University of Pretoria and a member of the panel.
“There’s harm done by the idea that Africa is exempt from [this] prevalence. It allows law makers to treat the problems of people [who are not heterosexual] who are in fact their citizens, constituents and members of their communities as though they are an external threat.”
‘No evidence’
In the report, the authors liken the problematic reasoning behind the prohibition of same-sex orientations and same-sex sexual behaviour to laws against miscegenation (sexual relations between races). “They justified those laws with arguments such that ‘cross-colour’ sex was ‘unnatural’ and a hazard to public health,” the authors write. “Yet there is no evidence that couples of different races produce family outcomes any different to those outcomes where both parents are from the same ethnic or racial group ... science has long shown that there is no reliable evidence that homosexuality causes harm, either to the participating individuals or to society.”
In fact, the report finds that recent science, including a number of large-scale studies, finds that “all harms associated with same-sex orientation derive from hostile social climates that discriminate and persecute any sexuality that does not adhere to the heteronormative standards of a particular society”.
Asked what could be done to improve the lives of LGBTI people in African countries – where stigma and violence against them is widespread – Tamale says there needs to be more evidence-based research and dissemination “that homosexuality is not unAfrican, the actual effects of discriminating against LGBTI persons, [and] what the different permutations of sexual orientation and gender identity are, and not to confuse the two, and especially more data about transgenderism and intersexuality”.
Despite the likelihood that this report will be rejected by Ugandan policymakers, Tamale says that although government media houses have a “standing blackout policy of not covering news on homosexuality”, she expects other media houses in the country will pick up on the report.
Also, she believes that an important way to improve these marginalized people’s livelihoods is “using judicial means through the filing of public interest litigation cases addressing discrimination, inequality and criminalization.”  

May 22, 2015

Pres.Obama Sends Gay Envoy to Homophobic Uganda through Homophobic Jamaica




Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
 submitted on buzzfeed.com the following story about this welcome decision by President Obama. Imagine sending a gay emboy to make the case to one of the most homophobes countries in the World.
 The U.S. State Department’s newly-appointed special envoy for LGBT rights, Randy Berry, is planning a visit to Uganda in July, a State Department spokesperson confirmed to BuzzFeed News.
The State Department could not immediately provide further details of the trip or what Berry hoped to accomplish in a visit to the country at the center of one of the longest running international confrontations over LGBT rights. Ugandan and American LGBT activists have previously criticized the U.S. response to the passage of a sweeping anti-LGBT law in 2014 for being slow and sending missed messages, but the law was struck down in August of that year. Attempts to restore the law have so far failed to gain traction in the face of apparent opposition from President Yoweri Museveni.
Berry, who was selected for the post in February and began work in April, will first be doing swings through Latin America and Europe in the coming weeks, said the State Department spokesperson. Berry told attendees at an event at the Human Rights Campaign on Tuesday that he planned to visit more than 15 countries in the next month, according to a source in the room. 
On Tuesday, the State Department announced that Berry will fly to Jamaica on Thursday, which has some of the highest rates of anti-LGBT violence in the region.

January 27, 2015

The Leading Gay Activist in Uganda was Killed but at His Funeral Something Unusual Occurred




108471821-members-of-the-ugandan-gay-community-mourn-at-the
Mourners at David Kato's funeral on Jan. 28, 2011.
Photo by Marc Hofer/AFP/Getty Images
On Jan. 28, 2011, two days after he was murdered, mourners arrived for a burial service in the remote village of Nakawala. Down a long dirt road, a hand-painted sign read “Death of David Kato” with an arrow pointing toward a house where the funeral would begin at 2 p.m. Cars and buses lined the road. So, too, did armed policemen.
A bus from the capital had brought his closest friends, each wearing a black T-shirt with David’s face on the front, a rainbow flag on the right sleeve, and the phrase “Aluta Continua” (“the struggle continues”) on the back. As they walked into the yard they made a striking appearance in their identical shirts, but with so many people showing up at once, few of the locals paid the group much attention. Indeed, they were just another curiosity among a swelling crowd that included, impressively, reporters and cameramen from international news agencies, representatives from human rights organizations, embassies, and NGOs, and a host of white, unfamiliar faces the likes of which had never been seen in this typical Ugandan village.
Hundreds filled the yard where several tents had been erected, and people milled about, greeting one another solemnly. Not a few buckled at the sight of the coffin. Two of David’s friends had to hold up a third who collapsed in tears in the viewing line.
Set beneath its own small, blue tent, the white, mid-sized casket had a window in the lid through which mourners could look at David for a last time. He normally wore glasses; they had been removed. His clean-shaven head rested perfectly upright. He was 46 years old; in another two weeks he would have been 47. Although his body wasn’t going to be buried where he had wanted it to be—near his own home about 10 miles away—his well-known attention to detail had been honored: He was beautifully dressed, his body clothed in a dark gray suit, matching pink dress shirt, and tie. Not a wrinkle was visible. Not a hint of the trauma that killed him.
The sun shone brightly.
Almost exactly 48 hours earlier, on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011, at about 2 p.m., David had been bludgeoned to death in his home. Authorities believed he had been hit in the back of the head in his living room then dragged to his bedroom, where neighbors discovered him unconscious a few hours later, bleeding on his bed. He died en route to the hospital.
Only three weeks earlier, David had won a seminal right-to-privacy court case that he had filed with friends Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera and Pepe Julian Onziema against a tabloid called Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. magazine). Rolling Stonehad reported that homosexuals were targeting Uganda’s children, recruiting hundreds of thousands of them into the homosexual lifestyle. It then printed the names, addresses, and places of employment of numerous people suspected of being homosexual, along with identifying photographs. The front page featured the headline, “100 Pictures of Uganda’s Top Homos Leak,” with a picture of David beneath the words “Hang Them.”
In a land in which homosexuality had been illegal since the colonial era, David Kato had been quietly but openly gay, acknowledging his homosexuality in a press conference as far back as 1998. (He was immediately beaten and imprisoned.) As its oldest, most visible member, he was considered the father of the Ugandan gay rights movement. Many of his colleagues affectionately called him the Grandfather of the Kuchus (the Ugandan term for LGBT individuals), while others called him Security, because he was always looking out for the safety of others. His home outside the capital was a sanctuary for those in need, where he provided shelter, food, and even clothing if someone had become homeless or jobless on account of their sexuality. Having been threatened repeatedly, he had recently installed cameras for greater protection.
He knew the court system like the back of his hand, kept records of every local human rights violation based on sexual or gender orientation, advocated for better HIV/AIDS prevention and health care, and had his finger on the pulse of all the gay (and anti-gay) news on the street, in the press, in the church, and especially in the Ugandan parliament. Indeed, he had devoted the last 12 months of his life to figuring out how to defeat a proposed anti-homosexuality bill that had been tabled by a young parliamentarian, David Bahati, and made homosexuality a crime warranting life imprisonment and, in some cases, the death penalty.
With David’s death, his community had lost a pioneering leader, and since his assailant, or assailants, remained at large, several feared the possibility of another murder within the community. Even though authorities had quickly stated that David’s murder had nothing to do with his homosexuality or gay rights activism, none of David’s friends believed that, especially since the police had yet to charge anyone with the crime or properly investigate the murder. Not even anti-gay activists accepted the police’s statement; some claimed David had been killed by an angry ex-lover.
In light of the circumstances surrounding David’s death, the fact that some of his friends were willing to wear distinguishing T-shirts at the funeral—exposing themselves in a way none of them had done before—telegraphed a newfound courage in one of David’s most enduring beliefs: the power of visibility. He believed a person has to step out of the shadows and be seen in order to be recognized as an equal human being. “If we keep on hiding,” he once said of the gay community, “They will say we are not here.”
There was a PA system, and, one by one, David’s friends, colleagues, and members of his family rose to eulogize him. His brave mother, Lydia, and twin brother, John, got up to speak. Some sang. Law professor Sylvia Tamale spoke passionately of the need to end homophobia and respect those so cruelly marginalized as “abali bebisiyaga” or “people who eat garbage.” Her use of that pejorative term for gays and lesbians was shocking to the crowd, creating an audible stir. That Professor Tamale would talk of the rights of homosexuals and use common swear words seemed to many in the audience not only disrespectful but also disturbing.
For all of David’s humanitarian efforts and public activism on behalf of LGBT rights, the irony was that few people outside that world had any idea that he was gay, especially in Nakawala. The villagers didn’t have access to city tabloids like Rolling Stone. They didn’t know the rumors surrounding David’s death—that he might nothave been killed by a random act of violence, but, rather, that he might have been targeted specifically to shut him up. The furthest thing from most people’s minds would have been that David was murdered because of his leadership within the gay community. In truth, few knew that David had been anything other than a schoolteacher.
Yet there was a definite sense that this was no regular service and David no ordinary man. Not a few were amazed when a statement was read from President Barack Obama, praising David for being “a powerful advocate for fairness and freedom.” Villagers wondered how David Kato Kisule from Central Uganda had been important enough to warrant the attention of the president of the United States, but they had little time to wonder before a gust of wind tore through the yard, lifted one of the tents, and hurled it onto the roof of David’s father’s house.
Whoosh … SLAAAAAAAM!
People screamed. Others gasped in horror. Nobody was hurt, but everyone was stunned. In this staunchly Christian community, where David’s late father had been a minister, not a few were shaken by the violence of the wind. Was this a sign of God’s displeasure? If God was angry, who had offended Him?
With the tent still flapping on the nearby roof but safely secured, Father Thomas Musoke, the local Anglican priest, began to give the final homily. It was not the one he had planned on delivering. Listening to Professor Tamale and David’s other colleagues, hearing President Obama’s words, surveying the press and the number of white faces in the audience, he had begun to realize that David Kato had been an abasiyazi. And as Father Musoke looked around at David’s friends, easily recognizable in their black T-shirts with rainbow sleeves, he had realized each one of them was an abasiyazi too.
His conscience would not allow him to bless in Christ’s name an unrepentant sinner who had defied God to the last. Kato was going to hell. Thus Father Musoke believed his obligation now was to try to save the others.
“May the Lord be with you,” he began calmly, holding a Bible in his left hand, the microphone in his right, a bright blue robe distinguishing him as a man of the cloth. “Brothers and sisters in sorrow, Kato is dead. He can’t repent nor change, but from what I have witnessed here and heard in condolences from as far away as Europe and America, [I can tell you] all of those are wasted!” He looked squarely at Kato’s friends. “It’s time for you to repent and return to God.”
By now, others were also beginning to realize that homosexuals were present, and several in the crowd began to chant with approval at the priest’s words.
Father Musoke continued, his words gathering pace. “You should know the truth and recognize man was meant for woman! The world has gone crazy! People are turning away from the Scriptures. They should turn back. They should abandon what they are doing. Jesus came to rescue the sinners … and Jesus came purposely for you sinners I’m seeing here. … You must repent! Even the animals know the difference between a male and a female. How can human beings claim they don’t know the difference between a man and a woman and that the two have different roles?”
Laughter rang out at the thought of people acting like beasts.
“I was informed of Kato’s death. But I wasn’t aware of the work he was doing. Kato is gone. He can’t repent. He can’t change. The Lord is telling you to change! Sexual immorality is too much!” The pastor and some members of the crowd felt a surge of righteousness, and men and women kept looking over at David’s friends who were standing together in a clearing. A group of homosexuals had not been seen in public like this before. Everyone’s face was clearly visible.
Kasha, Pepe, Victor, and the rest instinctively gathered closer together for protection, some mute with horror at what was taking place, some beginning to shake from fear, and still others whispering urgently, “He must be stopped!”
The pastor saw evil in his midst. He saw an evil that would be punished by God, and he shouted a prayer into the microphone that rang out through the speakers to a chorus of cheers, “The prayer we pray is for … the total destruction of your group! Completely! Completely! And every believer, every person that knows God, REPENT!”
Kasha had had it. Tall and thin, her eyes covered with mirrored sunglasses, she walked up to the priest, grabbed the microphone out of his hand, and walked away with it into the crowd. But the priest didn’t stop. He kept on shouting, and Kasha turned around. She walked under a tent, climbed onto a chair, and, as calmly as she could, while shaking a finger in the air, called out, “We have not come here to fight!”
Cameramen swirled their lenses in her direction.
“We have not come here to fight!” she repeated. “We have come to bury our friend. You are not the judge of us! As long as he’s gone to God, his creator, who are we to judge Kato?” Then, unleashing a torrent of pain and anguish—she had helped identify David’s body—and years of pent-up fury with the church and authoritarian figures persecuting her and her friends, she screamed, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!”
Marching back out onto the grass, she continued calling out, “Enough is enough for goodness’ sake! We came here in peace!”
A few of David’s friends pleaded with the pastor and the crowd, “Let David rest in peace!” but the pastor categorically refused to bury him.
“Do not bless him,” a young man agreed.
The pastor turned to Kasha, “You should repent! God, he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah just because of gays!”
Kasha yelled back, “Let his creator judge him! Not you! Not any of you here!”
Off to the side, tears streamed down Victor Mukasa’s face as he was comforted by a friend who sensed Victor’s terror. “Whatever they are saying, they’ve killed David,” the woman said. “They’ve not killed us. We are still living.”
With the police watching, ready at any moment to step in, scores of people began to converge on Father Musoke and Kasha. In the crush, several men from the village, astounded that they were in the presence of homosexuals, looked variously at the men and women in black T-shirts and questioned aloud, “Even that one? You mean we really have grown people who do such things in Uganda?”
A female voice cried out, “They’re planning to hit us!” while a man exclaimed, “We are not going to promote gays!”
The pastor began to push through the mob to get inside the house, and several policemen helped protect him as he did so. To David’s friends, the message was twofold: Do not touch the priest, and this concludes the service.
His friends were distraught.
“Please,” they cried.
No one would help them. In fact, the villagers refused to have anything to do with David’s body and would not accompany it to the gravesite in the woods behind the house.
“Let’s just take him ourselves,” said someone.
“Get the casket. Let’s go,” said another.
An elderly bishop who had been excommunicated by the Anglican Church for supporting the gay community—and who had been disinvited from saying a few words at the funeral—joined the small procession behind the coffin. Bespectacled and gray, Bishop Christopher Senyonjo still wore his collar, pontifical ring, and pectoral cross, the latter hanging from a chain that rested against his broad chest and swayed ever so slightly as he walked. He had worked closely with David through the years, had known David for a long time, and had himself suffered persecution just for being an ally. At the gravesite, he watched the pallbearers lower David’s coffin into the ground, knowing it would be up to him, a technically silenced bishop, to finish the service in the name of the Lord.
“You may be different from me,” he said in his sharp East African accent, standing amid those who had dared to gather. “Myself, I am straight. I’m not LGBT. But I have known these people who are LGBT. I respect them for what they are, and I believe they are going to Heaven.”
The small group of mourners cheered faintly. Tears streamed down Victor’s face as he looked out from beneath a cap that read “Out & Proud.” Nearby, a man broke down, covering his face with his hands. Kasha stood stoically behind the bishop, her tall figure a pillar of strength, her sunglasses reflecting the scene. Friends leaned against friends. A few threw rose petals onto his coffin. To the side, sitting in a chair that someone had brought for her, Kato’s mother, Lydia, continually tried to catch her breath. She stared at the coffin in pain, her chiseled face worn with interminable grief.
“Like you others, they are going to Heaven!” The bishop continued. “If they don’t believe, that is another matter, but if they are believers, don’t be discouraged. I know people have been discouraged even not going to church, because they are being abused. As I found today, people are abusing them.” He shook his head. “Please don’t be discouraged. God created you. God is on your side. … This is the gospel I am preaching.”
He paused. “My church was not happy with what I said. Because they want me to condemn. But God showed me No, no, no. God showed me that Christ doesn’t discriminate [against] anyone. I am free because I know the truth! And I will stand for that truth. So please, we pray for the soul of David Kato.”
Everyone bowed his or her head. Some closed their eyes.
Bishop Christopher carried on, emotion catching his breath. “I have known him. I have respected him and his love of the human race. And that is the best thing God left us. God loves you, Kato.” His voice cracking, he looked down at the casket and blessed the body with a wave of his right hand. “He knows you. He brought you into the world. And you have done your work. So rest in peace.”
Sunlight filtered down through the trees. Silence held everyone together. Some knelt to touch the casket now draped by a rainbow flag. For a moment the world was still, calm, unbelievably sad, and emptier than it had been a few days before when David—son, brother, teacher, helper, uncle, friend—had been alive. But there was no hatred at the grave, just loss—the kind of loss that comes from having loved.
A messenger arrived. Word was that the homosexuals were going to be stoned in their cars, or worse, if they didn’t leave. This was exactly the kind of thing that David had fought against his whole life—the inability to be recognized as a gay person lest you become attacked for who you are. Such a threat at a funeral seemed unconscionable, but David’s corpse was evidence that no one was safe. And so his friends fled, but as they passed through the yard one last time as a group, there was only one face that the villagers and police saw repeatedly: David’s—going by on all of those T-shirts. As if to remind everyone that a man can be hunted, maligned, cast out, mistreated, and even killed for being different, but his light cannot be extinguished by the actions of others.
David Kato’s legacy was marching on, his presence as strong as ever. Indeed, the final words of the day were not spoken aloud but quietly delivered on the backs of his friends as each one headed for the road. The struggle for freedom that David had lived and died for would continue unabated. Each T-shirt read: Aluta Continua. Aluta Continua. Aluta Continua.
Sources for this account include video footage of the funeral taken by news agencies and individual reporters, local and international news reports, and firsthand accounts from colleagues and friends of David Kato’s.
Also in Outward: Photos of gay life in Kampala, Uganda.
Sarah S. Kilborne is an author, performer, and activist. She is founder of the Kiss for Equality campaign. Her most recent book is American Phoenix.

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