Uganda’s Parliament is up in arms after MPs discovered copies of a local LGBT publication in their pigeonholes.
According to Uganda’s The Observer, 40 parliamentarians were left in a “panic” because “a woman sneaked into parliament with copies of the offending magazines and stashed them in the pigeonholes unnoticed”.
In a sensationalistic report, the newspaper said that security officials “were shocked and confused” that the woman had managed to “stealthily” distribute the “pro-homosexual content”.
The woman reportedly told security that she was delivering information packs for legislators and was allowed to proceed.
The publication was the third edition of Bombastic Magazine, which was launched by internationally recognised LGBTI rights activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera in 2014. It’s Uganda’s only LGBT publication.
Following a complaint, parliamentary officials retrieved 25 copies from the pigeonholes but not before 15 MPs left with the magazine.
Kuchu Times Media Group, which publishes Bombastic, confirmed that volunteers had indeed distributed copies in parliament, as they had done for the past two issues. Nabagesera said she was puzzled and taken aback at the reaction.
“Our policy makers are misinformed about LGBTI persons and all things concerning sexual and gender minorities and how best to change this than provide first hand information from the very people that they are misinformed about,” she explained.
“Bombastic magazine carries various articles that encompass different issues including lived realities shared by LGBTI persons. These we believe will shed light on what it truly means to be a minority as well as debunk so many of the myths that surround us as a people,” added Nabagesera.
LGBT Ugandans telling their stories
Chris Obore, Parliament’s Director of Communications and Public Affairs, accused the publishers of “trying to smuggle illegal materials into parliament”, describing it as “a gross act of provocation”.
Kuchu Times, however, questioned why the magazine was seen as inappropriate, noting that the articles it contains are simply LGBT Ugandans writing about their experiences.
“These are stories meant to debunk the recruitment theories that are constantly traded by anti-gay crusaders as well as put human faces to this stigmatised group of people,” it said.
Kuchu Times also dismissed claims that the magazines were “smuggled” into parliament. The publisher pointed out that the copies were delivered by volunteers who signed in at the parliamentary entrance and underwent all check-point procedures. They handed the labelled parcels to the receptionists, who in turn promised to deliver them to the recipients.
“We will continue to publish this magazine because it is one way to reach out to the masses and policy makers,” said Nabagesera. “Instead of rubbishing this information that they could benefit from, our parliamentarians should invite us to sit down and have beneficial conversations”.
Download the 3rd issue of Bombastic Magazine here (PDF).