“If we keep on hiding, they will say we are not here…”

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According to human rights organisations, at least 500,000 gay people live in Uganda out of a total population of 31 million, though the government of Uganda contests that number as inflated; the BBC states that it is “impossible” to determine the actual number. This is because the majority of homosexuals in Ugandan have been forced into hiding since the 2009 Anti-Homosexuality Bill was proposed by leading Ugandan parliamentary David Bahati. Although homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda with those found guilty of “committing” this “crime” facing up to 14 years imprisonment, the new Bill, which in 2013 is still under consideration by the Ugandan government proposes life imprisonment for gay activities and the death penalty for aggravated homosexuality.

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Leading LGBT Activist – David Kato

The quote featured in the title is one taken from prominent Gay Rights Activist David Kato. David was a prominent campaigner, fighting for the human rights of homosexuals like himself living in Uganda and even winning an important court case where he sued Uganda’s Rolling Stone newspaper after it published the names, addresses and work places of 100 of Uganda’s “top gays” next to a yellow banner which read “hang them”.

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Unfortunately however, it was a cause Kato was to give his life to, when he was bludgeoned to death in his home in early 2011  . Days after Kato’s death the local police strongly expressed that David’s murder was not a result of his sexuality but merely a dispute between friends. The pastor who carried out his funeral service, refused to bless Kato’s body in the eyes of God and so LGBT activists where forced to  remove his body and take it to a private burial.

Shockingly this obscene treatment of homosexuals is not merely an issue in Uganda as homosexuality is currently illegal in 76 countries, and punishable by death in 5 of those. When asked to comment on the Bill as part of humanistic documentary “Call Me Kuchu” created by directors Malika Zohali-Worral and Katherine Fairfax who explored the issue in 2010/2011, Bahati commented plainly “There is no longer a debate in Uganda. We don’t recognise homosexuality as a human right here”. Indeed, LGBT activists who are desperately opposing this new legislation find themselves prosecuted on a daily basis not just by the law in Uganda but by their friends and neighbours as a result of it.

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They say “all it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing” so we must take action against such a violation of human rights, where people are prosecuted and murdered just because of their sexuality. To take action against the passing of the Anti-Homosexual Bill in Uganda and add your voice to the hundreds of thousands who recognise its potential danger visit http://callmekuchu.com/act/ for ways in which you can join the campaign, because until this Bill is stopped and others like it are raised to question, in the words of the David Kato “The struggle continues”.

NB/  I wrote this article as my entry to the Amnesty International Young Reporter of the Year Competition and managed to make it into the top 10 of my category. I felt it was such an important issue that people needed to be made aware of. 

Thank you for reading

Harriette

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