Protestors outside the Ugandan embassy in London
(Pic: Brett Lock of OutRage!)
Nearly 100 protesters rallied outside the Ugandan Embassy in London on Thursday, International Human Rights Day, to support the Ugandan LBGTI community. They called on the Ugandan government to drop its draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which is currently being debated by the Ugandan parliament.
Under this proposed law, LGBTI Ugandans will face execution for certain homosexual acts and life imprisonment for all other same-sex acts – even mere caressing and kissing.
The London protesters included LGBTI activists from the UK and of Jamaican descent, plus LGBTI campaigners from Uganda, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Cameroon, Nigeria, the Congo and Kenya.
The keynote speakers were gay Ugandan John Bosco and straight Ugandan human rights activist, Michael Senyonjo. Bosco was recently jailed in Uganda, after he was illegally and forcibly returned to Uganda by the British Home office while seeking asylum in the UK.
He condemned the Anti-Homosexuality Bill as “an attack on the civil liberties of all Ugandans,” denouncing it as “dividing Ugandans against each other and requiring people to report on their own family members who are gay.”
Michael Senyonjo told the crowd: “In the last five years we have seen Idi Amin return to Uganda and his name is (President) Yoweri Museveni. We cannot allow fascism to return to Uganda. He should leave power and go because he is not taking the country anywhere but to disaster.”
Peter Tatchell of the London LGBTI rights group OutRage! echoed this view, saying that President Museveni is fast becoming the Robert Mugabe of Uganda. “There’s a huge ground swell of public opinion that this bill goes way too far. Even people who say they’re against homosexuality say this bill is excessive and a threat to the human rights of all Ugandans.”
The protest MC was Dennis Hambridge, global coordinator of the Gay Activists Alliance International (GAAI). He said the protest was about sending a message to the Uganda government – that the world is watching and that human rights supporters deplore this repressive bill.
Nigerian gay activists Godwyns Onwuchekwa, Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay and Bisi Alimi declared that gay rights are human rights and expressed pan-African solidarity with Ugandan LGBTI people.
According to some reports on Thursday, the Ugandan government is preparing to drop the death penalty and life imprisonment from the bill in the face of mounting international outrage.
Other protests against the proposed legislation are planned to take place around the world in the coming days.