Gay activists have launched a campaign against homophobia in Uganda at a daring media conference at the Speke Hotel in Kampala.
Around thirty lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Ugandans made their stand on Thursday last week, aiming to press the government and civil society for equal rights.
In a statement released by Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) on the same day, the organisation said that, “We are here today to proclaim that these human rights violations are completely unacceptable. We have had enough of the abuse, neglect, and violence.”
A number of the activists at the press conference wore masks out of fear of being persecuted if identified and recounted stories of policy brutality.
Under a large banner emblazoned with the words, “God created us like this, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI), Let Us Live In Peace,” the organisation urged Ugandans to consider the ongoing sidelining of LGBT people in the country’s HIV/AIDS treatment and education activities.
“Many people ignorantly turn a blind eye as we die of HIV/AIDS because we as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people do not have proper access to protection, care, and treatment. We cannot continue to ignore the people in this country who are most at risk because of unfair discrimination and stigma,” SMUG said.
SMUG also called for an end to hate crimes again against LGBT people, adding that “no person should be deprived of their constitutional rights; and homosexuals and transgender people are no exception.”
“All people are equal under the law. Therefore, we step into the public today to give a face to the many who are discriminated against every day in our country. We are your doctor, your teacher, your best friend, your sister, maybe even your father or son,” said the organisation.
“Don’t lay a hand on us, we are the homosexual and transgender children of God. God created us as this way as LGBTI, all we ask is Let Us Live In Peace”, Victor Juliet Mukasa, from SMUG, said at the conference.
Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, described in law as “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” and “gross indecency” with possible prison sentences of between five years and life imprisonment.