For a while now the LGBTQ community in Ugandan have faced social, political and communal discrimination.
Homophobic threats, torture, being jailed are the order of the day to this community. This is despite the repealing of the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2014 that was very controversial.
Passed in 2013 by the Ugandan parliament, the law had thought to criminalize homosexuality and authorize the Uganda government to take children away from LGBTQ parents. It had also thought to impose a sentence of life imprisonment on people found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality”, including sex with a minor or while HIV-positive and for people living in a same-sex marriages. A sentence of between five and seven years in jail or a $40,700 fine or both was slapped on people deemed to indulge in the promotion of homosexuality.
However, Uganda’s Constitutional Court on August 1, 2014 overturned the law, saying it was wrongly passed by Parliament. Following that development, one would have thought that would be the end of the recriminations against the LGBTQ community. It hasn’t been the case, however.
People that take the courage to openly come out as gay and, those who are deemed to show sympathy for those suffering the senseless attacks are being attacked and ostracized every day.
Recently, a local tabloid —ignoring the journalism code of conduct —infringed on the rights of members of the LGBTQ community and published the names, addresses and occupations of gay men and women, putting them at risk for retribution by the state, employers, family and neighbours. As a result many went into hiding.
Many have been arrested, humiliated, scorned at, tortured and the worst of all, many have innocently lost their lives because of having different attributions in life. Needless to state that these people are our brothers and sisters, normal human beings but with different sex orientations.
These people should freely express themselves, access government services without discrimination.
However, the authorities in Uganda have been slow to recognize this, which only means hell for people who openly come out as gay.
In Uganda gay men and other men who have sex with men are less likely to have access to the HIV testing, treatment, prevention and care services that could keep them healthy and well, in part because of the stigma and discrimination they face in health-care settings and throughout society, according to UNAIDS.
Shouldn’t Ugandans learn to accept that people are different and have different sexual orientations?
Tolerance makes it possible for people to live together peacefully, being tolerant means that you accept other people’s ideas, opinions, cultures, and traditions even if they are different from your own or even if you don’t agree with them.
A lot of education about LGBT community is required, tolerance doesn’t just make peaceful coexistence between people possible; it actually enriches society in today’s divisiveness and unrest, tolerance and peaceful coexistence seems very far away but working together can bring about a society that lives in harmony.
All in all Civil Society should push Government authorities globally to establish anti-discrimination and protective laws to eliminate the discrimination and violence faced by LGBT people in Uganda and to advance the rights for all people without exception.
By Moses Karatunga
Human Rights Activists