LGBT Ugandans celebrate Pride in 2014 (Pic: Keiko Hiromi)
Risking arrest and abuse, LGBT Ugandans are bravely taking part in a low-key five-day-long Pride event, culminating in a march on Saturday.
Now in its fourth edition, the 2015 outing is being held under the banner of “We Are Family”. This year it takes place on the first anniversary of the annulment of the country’s infamous Anti-Homosexuality Act by the Constitutional Court.
“This year is a year of celebration and that’s exactly what this year’s Pride is all about, celebrating Pride as a family” said the organisers in a statement.
They added that as “a community that lives mostly in the shadows” the event is “an opportunity for others to realise what life is like in Uganda for the LGBTI community… to shine some light on the community here and realise we all need to work together for a better future for all…”.
The Uganda Pride 2015 line-up includes a cocktail event, discussions on issues such as the future of the LGBTI movement and trans and health awareness and the screening of a movie. Friday will feature the Mr and Ms Pride pageant, celebrating “beauty, fashion, and intelligence.”
For Saturday’s Pride parade, organisers have encouraged members of the community to attend with their families, children and allies.
Surprisingly, last year, local police provided protection for the 200-strong parade, which took place on the beaches of Lake Victoria in the town of Entebbe. The event ends on Sunday with a closing party.
Uganda Pride is taking place on the heels of the release of a report on “Violations Based on Sex Determination, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation” in the country.
The report documents 89 cases of violations of LGBT people’s rights in 2014. In 47 of the cases, the violations were perpetrated by state actors, especially the Uganda Police Force. It also found an increase in mob attacks, family rejection, evictions and media outings.
While the Anti-Homosexuality Act was annulled on procedural grounds in August 2014, MPs have threatened to introduce a harsh new bill to replace the law. There are also plans to pass a law restricting LGBT NGOs.
Previous colonial-era legislation criminalising gay sex remains in force in Uganda, allowing the state to imprison anyone found guilty of homosexuality for life.