An individual identifying as a Queer Ugandan recently did a casual AMA (Ask Me Anything) session with Reddit, from Kampala, Uganda. They talked about the effects of the Anti-Homosexuality legislation, activists organizations in Uganda, as well as American Evangelicial presence in the country. Here are some highlights.
Q: Happy birthday! Are you afraid at all? Do you think you’ll try to leave the country or are you planning on protesting? Or will you try to just avoid being caught and continue living there? This is the weirdest comment i’ve ever written that came after happy birthday. Stay safe.
A: Ha! Thank you.
I’m worried, but not for myself. Ugandan laws generally tend to go largely unenforced, and I am not a public figure and can “pass” for hetero. However many of my friends and acquaintances may not be so lucky. The precedent in Nigeria also gives cause for concern.
I am more worried about what this says about the direction we are going as a nation. There have been a number of ridiculous bills passed in the past few weeks that point to politicking in advance of presidential elections planned for 2016.
That being said I don’t plan on going anywhere. I love my country even though it frustrates me every day
Q: I am sorry for the bill being signed. A very bad day for everyone as fear and ignorance prevailed.
How bad is the situation for LGBT-people in Uganda? Are there any grass root movement or is it basically illegal now to even talk about it?
(I am ignorant about the bill and it’s content).
A: There are a number of LGBTI organisations in Uganda, the biggest would probably be Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). If you’re interested in helping then I would recommend contacting them.
I have not yet read the act as it was signed today, but the original bill was pretty heinous. They have removed the death penalty clause but still anyone convicted of homosexual acts faces life imprisonment. Homosexuality was already illegal as per our penal code but the bill has brought new publicity and punishment to something that might have otherwise been ignored or tolerated.
There has been a marked increase in the past year or two since the bill was proposed, in gay couples being harassed by the public and police.
Thank you for the birthday wishes
Q: Is the word “queer” a common word used to refer to someone gay in Uganda? Also, what is (if there is one) the gay culture like there?
A: Good questions. Kuchu would be a local word to mean gay. Queer is more a self-identification thing, that would be used by someone who is aware of the global struggle of sexual minorities.
In terms of gay culture, there are LGBT organisations and a few underground gay clubs or gay-friendly spaces. Openly gay people are few and far between, a lot of gay people are closeted or married or on the downlow, and there’s probably a great number of people who don’t even have a framework for their sexuality.
Q: Why do you think these anti-gay initiatives have been happening in the last few years?
A: The reason it’s happening in Uganda is that American conservatives are outsourcing the fight, because they are losing in America. Look up Scott Lively