Uganda’s Least Equal Voters: The L.G.B.T.I.

Feb 17, 2016

Photo credit: Iain Statham/SIPA/REX Shutterstock

By Nicholas Opiyo

As an attorney and Uganda human rights activist, America’s elections thrill me. It is breathtaking to witness democracy in full roar, as candidates vie for the nation’s highest office.

In Uganda, we hold elections on Feb. 18, and our eight candidates for the presidency are fiercely vying, too. But their ferocity is different; it may put at risk the lives of many Ugandans — our gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and transgender-intersex people.

As the election fervor mounts, so have vitriol and physical attacks against these people — despite our success in August 2014 at overturning Uganda’s most draconian anti-homosexuality law in our Constitutional Court. Unfortunately, the government still makes use of several other legal avenues that allow it to punish and silence people whose sexual identity is out of public favor.

Imagine this scene: Uganda was holding its first-ever televised presidential debate last month (though it was shunned by the incumbent candidate, President Yoweri Museveni). Joseph Mabirizi, a pastor and independent candidate, tried to turn voters away from one rival — a former prime minister — by accusing him of supporting “gays,” toward whom the public is nearly unanimous in its hostility.

Public opinion surveys conducted at the end of 2015 by Afrobarometer reported that 92 percent of the Ugandans interviewed think that homosexuality is inconsistent with Ugandan culture and religion. An equal percentage expressed the belief that L.G.B.T.I. people do not deserve the same legal and constitutional protection of their rights as other Ugandans.

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3 comments on “Uganda’s Least Equal Voters: The L.G.B.T.I.

  • When I started out on my gay lib project in Canada in 1969, I figured there was a one in a million chance anything would happen. I just did it because it felt good to fight back.

    I started first by writing a book to help gays come to accept themselves. Later I did lectures, letting the audience ask anything. I arranged things to prove to the audience they were clueless, and so should shut and and listen. It took about one hour to bring a roomful around. We had an election. Gay lib was a novelty, so we were center stage. The government were insanely hostile and said crazy things. The opposition won. They said there was going to be gay rights legislation to thank up for helping defeat the government.

    Perhaps you can do likewise.

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  • I’ve had my moments, but realised I’m straight. But some people aren’t, and we’d all better get over it.

    Who the fuck would “choose” to be homosexual in a country with this five star nonsense going on?

    I sometimes get the distinct feeling that the persecutors complain just a little too much! Are they perhaps in denial about urges that they themselves secretly feel?

    Or is it plain ignorance and bigotry, engendered by you know what?

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