Monday, 24 March 2014

Active Perspective

Activist, Clare Byarugaba

It's easy to get caught up in the politics of the Bahati Bill, but let's not forget the effect it has on human beings. Here are two perspectives from gay rights campaigners.

The Reality of Uganda’s Brutal Gay Ban: Clare Byarugaba endures the fear and violence that have followed her nation’s cruel crackdown. In Los Angeles, she and other female activists reported on their struggles for equality.

She has seen friends lose their jobs and get assaulted by the police. “A transgender friend, a mob attacked her and undressed her in public,” Byarugaba said. “I know people who have tried to commit suicide. People call me on a daily basis and say, ‘Give me five reasons why I shouldn’t kill myself.’” 
The ban is politics, plain and simple—the result of “U.S. anti-gay extremists” such as Evangelical pastor Scott Lively “coming to Uganda and saying ‘the gays are after your children,’” which inspired the president to seize on the issue, Byarugaba said.  

Activist, Frank Mugisha 

I am a gay Ugandan about to go home. This law will tyrannise my life: A day after the anti-homosexuality act was passed, a tabloid listed me as a 'homo'. This hatred is new to my country, and driven by US evangelicals

Uganda has always been a conservative society in which certain things are not discussed, but it never used to be a cruel environment for gay people. Twenty years ago we were not pursued by mobs, tortured by police, or run out of our homes. When I came out as gay the sort of hysteria that has since overwhelmed my country was unthinkable. If I were a gay 13-year-old in Uganda today, I probably wouldn't tell anyone. 
Many people I have met with over these past few weeks, including Britain's foreign secretary, William Hague, have asked me: what has changed so dramatically? It is true that same-sex sexual acts between consenting adults have been illegal in Uganda ever since the British introduced their penal code at the beginning of the 20th century. But this recent era of expanded criminalisation and virulent homophobia has been another gift from the west, this time from the United States.

It is certainly interesting to follow the logic of some vehement bill supporters: being gay is a Western import, which we will fight with Christianity, which is a Western import. 

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