Thursday, August 30, 2012

Uganda making life tough for NGOs, LGBT rights

By Maria Burnett, Special to CNN Editor’s note: Maria Burnett is a senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. The views expressed are her own. I’ve interviewed hundreds of victims and witnesses of human rights abuses in Uganda, but I was genuinely surprised at the fear I heard recently when I met with activists in the country. “If you preach human rights, you are anti-development, an economic saboteur,” a colleague told me. “You aren’t going to talk about land, oil, and good governance. This is just the beginning, but the tensions have been accumulating.” Uganda has made the news in recent months over issues like the Ebola virus, Joseph Kony, and the notorious anti-homosexuality law known as the “kill the gays bill.” Less-well-known has been its longstanding patterns of torture and mistreatment of detainees by security forces. President Yoweri Museveni and the ruling National Resistance Movement have been in power for more than 25 years, with a 2005 constitutional amendment lifting presidential term limits and permitting him to run and win in 2006, and then again, heavily assisted by off-budget spending from state coffers, in 2011. Since 2011, Museveni has faced increasing criticism for economic woes, corruption, unemployment, rising HIV rates and deteriorating health and education services. In April 2011, demonstrators “walked to work” to protest raising food and fuel prices. The military and police took to the streets, using live ammunition and killing at least nine bystanders and beating journalistsdocumenting the events. The government has routinely blocked demonstrations in the last few years, contending that they threaten public safety. The president appears to be preparing to run again in 2016 – which would be his 30th year in office – and it seems no coincidence that in the wake of growing public grievances, the ruling party’s officials are scrutinizing nongovernmental organizations and the impact they have on public perceptions of governance and management of public funds. Organizations working on human rights, land acquisitions, oil revenue transparency, and other sensitive issues are the main targets, and apparently viewed as a threat to the administration’s interests. Uganda’s laws reflect this analysis. The intelligence agencies are legally mandated to monitor civil society, and the president’s office has a role in reviewing requests to do research, via the Uganda Council on Science and Technology. Over the last two years, Ugandan officials have reportedly closed civil society meetings and workshops, reprimanded organizations for their research, demanded retractions or apologies, and confiscated t-shirts, calendars and training materials with messaging about political change and “people’s power.” The government board mandated to regulate civil society recently recommended dissolving one group unless it apologized for bringing “the person of the president into disrepute” and has stated that working in coalitions is unlawful. At the same time the government’s hostility to, and harassment of, Uganda’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community continues unabated. Government officials demonize homosexuality, deliberately misinform the public, and stir hatred. One minister uses “the promotion of homosexuality” – a spurious claim – as justification for his campaign against any group seeking to protect the rights of LGBT people. He told me that the pursuit of LGBT rights is a Western conspiracy aimed at destroying Uganda. While homosexual sex is illegal in Uganda, it is not illegal to discuss LGBT issues, despite the deeply misguided anti-gay bill still pending before parliament. Groups focused on fighting for the rights of LGBT people therefore have every legal right to register and operate. But in practice, that remains far from possible. While many interpret the government’s increasing focus on homosexuality as a populist strategy to gain support, it is still profoundly dangerous for a community that is vulnerable to harassment and violence. Donors need to ask tough questions about where Uganda is heading, given the deteriorating situation for civil society. Furthermore, in today’s Uganda, government institutions have little independence to perform their constitutionally mandated jobs, corruption is rife, and protecting the ruling party and the president from criticism has become more important than citizens’ right to information. Fundamental democratic guarantees such as freedom of expression and association should not take a back seat to security interests. Ultimately, this is the lesson of the Arab spring. Until Ugandan civil society is free to research, publish, speak out, debate and advocate for change without fear, durable security will remain out of reach.

Play about homosexuality cancelled in Uganda after regulators step in

National Theatre of Uganda refuses to stage The River and the Mountain, which tells the story of a young gay businessman David Kato, a Ugandan gay rights activist who was murdered last year. The country has a reputation as a deeply homophobic society. Photograph: Stringer/AP A play that highlights the difficulties of being gay in Uganda has been forced to abandon its run in the capital, Kampala. The River and the Mountain, which tells the story of a young businessman coming to terms with being gay in a climate of homophobia, was due to be performed at the National Theatre of Uganda last week before regulators intervened. Some shows went ahead at two smaller venues, but the National Theatre refused to stage the scheduled performances. "We are all disappointed but not surprised that we could not perform at the National Theatre," said the actor Okuyo Joel Atiku Prynce, who plays the gay character at the centre of the story. "What is surprising is the fact that we have received no clear reason. No one is taking responsibility for this decision." He said the play was not intended to promote a specific agenda, but rather to add to public debate. "We're actors, not activists," he said. "The play is there to inspire discussion in the community and to get a reaction from people. We want it to open up a dialogue." Uganda has a reputation as a deeply homophobic society, largely based on the anti-homosexuality bill introduced to parliament in October 2009. The bill, which has not yet been voted on, proposes severe penalties, including death, for those found guilty of having same-sex relationships. In January 2011 the gay rights activist David Kato was murdered shortly after a local newspaper published images of him and other gay people under a headline urging readers: "Hang them." The River and the Mountain has provoked controversy not only for its sympathetic portrayal of gay people, but also because it suggests that much of the anger and hatred has been whipped up by politicians and religious leaders for their own purposes. Its British playwright, Beau Hopkins, said he had hoped the play would promote discussion about homosexuality. "The aim of the play was for it to be discussed by those who saw it and in the local media," Hopkins said. "The local media seem to have agreed not to talk about it, which is disappointing. We're also particularly disappointed that it won't be staged at the National Theatre, as there it would have reached more Ugandans." The production was stopped by the regulating Media Council, which told producers a day before it was to open that the script needed to be cleared by authorities – not normally a requirement for theatrical productions. But the council's Pius Mwinganisa told the Guardian this was standard practice and not politically motivated. He said authorisation for The River and the Mountain remained "under consideration". Christopher Senyonjo, a bishop who was thrown out of the Church of Uganda in March 2006 in part because of his vocal support for the gay community, criticised the decision. "This play helps people understand that gay people should be understood rather than rejected out of hand," he said. "My church wanted me to condemn homosexuals but I cannot condemn people who are just the way they were born."

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Uganda to clamp Internet after gay-rights hacking

Uganda vowed to tighten its Internet security after government websites were hacked earlier this week. A proposed bill that calls for the death penalty for those caught in homosexual acts has sparked outrage. Gay rights activists hacked several Ugandan government websites to denounce what they perceive to be the harassment of homosexuals in the east African nation of more than 35 million. "Message to the government of Uganda: you want to put people to death only because they have different likings," read one message posted on the website of the Uganda Law Society on Thursday. Uganda reintroduces controversial anti-gay bill A controversial bill, which calls for execution for some homosexual acts has been re-introduced in the Ugandan parliament. The timing of the bill may be just a ploy to divert attention from other issues. (08.02.2012) A Ugandan government statement said a hacker with the Twitter handle @PinkNinj4 defaced several government websites, including those of the prime minister's office, parliament, the Uganda Securities Exchange and Uganda Law Society. "Hijacking our websites and using strategies of blackmail to promote their dark agendas is unacceptable to us," said government spokesperson Karoro Okurut. On Friday, the government promised to beef up online security. "Our first priority is to apply all necessary resources to give all institutions, the tools, processes and support they require to strengthen the security of their IT systems in case of any incident," the Ugandan National Information Technology Authority said in a statement. A hacked posting on the website of prime minister Amama Mbabazi Thursday contained a fake press release announcing the prime minister's support for a gay pride parade. "We have got to expel the narrow mindedness from this country, and begin afresh, starting with a full and formal apology to all homosexuals living in Uganda today," the statement said. It was removed by Friday. "Odious" legislation Debate has raged over a controversial bill codenammed LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual) that initially called for the hanging of individuals convicted of same-sex sexual activity more than once. Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda. Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda for both genders Currently before a parliamentary committee, progress on the bill seems to have stalled - but that hasn't stopped debate. Denounced as "odious" by US President Barack Obama, the proposed bill has been widely condemned outside Africa, where homosexuality is illegal in 37 countries. Obama's opposition to the bill is shared by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who earlier this month praised Ugandan gay rights activists for their bravery. "It is critical for all Ugandans - the government and citizens alike - to speak out against discrimination, harassment, and intimidation of anyone," Clinton said. "That's true no matter where they come from, what they believe, or whom they love." The bill would also mandate the death penalty for those who engage in same-sex sexual activity with a minor, or those who have HIV - the virus that causes AIDS. Few Africans are openly gay, fearing imprisonment, violence and the loss of jobs. Media often "out" people suspected of being homosexual. In 2006, Ugandan newspaper The Red Pepper published a list of the first names and professions of 45 allegedly gay men, many of whom purportedly suffered harassment as a result. In 2010 Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone published the full names, addresses, and photographs of 100 allegedly gay Ugandans, accompanied by a call for their execution. Same-sex sexual activity among males is illegal in most African nations. Female same-sex sexual activity, however, is legal in some - such as Ghana, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe. South Africa is the only country in Africa to legally recognize same-sex marriages.

Gay Ugandans: Loud and Proud

Activist speaks out against her country’s tradition of homophobia—and for progress towards LGBT rights Val Kalende About 10 years ago, when I first came out to my guardian and, later, to my closest colleagues at the Daily Monitor newspaper in Uganda, I was nothing short of terrified of losing both family and friends. As I had anticipated, declaring my love for fellow women got me my own share of homelessness, verbal abuse and alienation, even from people I trusted the most. Abandoned as a teenager and forced into maturity at a tender age, I always believed in the transformative power of truth, because the truth, as they say, sets us free. My “coming out” story as a Pentecostal-raised Ugandan lesbian woman is no different from the story of the activists who marched at the first-ever LGBT Pride parade in Uganda on Aug. 4. When I learned that my colleagues were organizing Pride, I was more concerned about what Pride means to us as Africans than replicating what we have witnessed at Pride parades elsewhere. When I saw my colleagues marching on a muddy road, some walking barefoot with the national flag held high, not only was I reminded of our Africanness, but I felt close to home. And then I thought of our fallen comrade David Kato, who has constantly been on my mind since I saw the film Call Me Kuchu, and whose life was cut short before we could experience this moment. I got teary. I believe the concept of Pride anywhere it is celebrated is not just a moment; it is a precursor for change. I believe that like the 196[3] March on Washington in the United States, which sparked a revolution that sent ripples of change as far as Africa, what happened in Uganda a few days ago will change the politics of local organizing among LGBT movements in Africa. At the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) I research how African LGBT movements organize, and how international NGOs such as IGLHRC can support their work. In every country there's a unique strategy for organizing that is directly related to how each movement started. In Uganda organizing an LGBT movement was partly prompted by President Yoweri Museveni's denial that there were any LGBT people in Uganda. On a recent visit home I made a statement I knew wasn't going to get me too many friends, even among fellow activists. I said our struggle must move away from the victimization narrative and begin to focus on positive stories. It doesn't help us when foreign journalists, bloggers, and allies present our struggle as “desperate” and come to Uganda simply to write about what is wrong with our country while ignoring our success stories. While the “desperate” narrative puts us in the international spotlight and does hold our leaders accountable, it also pits us against our fellow nationals. A balance of both narratives will bring the change we all need. I have been involved with LGBT community organizing in Uganda long enough to observe how far we have come and what we have managed to achieve amidst very difficult circumstances. For instance, there was a time when Ugandan LGBT activist and Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) founder Victor Mukasa was the lone visible face of our struggle. It is because activists like Mukasa tirelessly knocked on the doors of consular offices -- even if those doors sometimes didn't open -- that U.S. and other world leaders care about LGBT people outside their borders. Today, world leaders like Ban Ki-moon and Hillary Clinton listen and are committed to taking action. On balancing both the negative and positive, it is important that we acknowledge that the first Uganda Pride was a success and at the same time condemn state-sponsored harassment of LGBT activists. Three transgender women and professional dancers, while running away from the scene after police raided the event, were handcuffed, arrested and harassed. One transgender woman, Beyonde, was reportedly beaten by a policeman for resisting arrest. It has become a trend for Ugandan police to arrest, harass, humiliate, and in some cases shoot at unarmed civilians. Two months ago, a video of an armed and uniformed policeman half-undressing and squeezing the breast of a prominent female politician was making the rounds on the Internet. Police anywhere in the world are mandated to enforce the law, not to break it. In my country they are breaking it. State security officials have unlawfully raided three LGBT gatherings in the past six months. While the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is still being debated for passage, it should be made clear that it is still proposed legislation. Enforcing a not-yet-passed bill as law is not only unlawful; it is a gross violation of human rights. Similarly, the growing trend of labeling any gathering of LGBT people a "gay wedding" is an affront to human rights and a red herring informed by utter ignorance and speculative fear of the unknown. While religious fundamentalists in the West are now clutching at straws as laws against same-sex marriage are repealed, they are exporting their homophobic values to Africa. We have learned enough from Christian missionaries, such as Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, to know that when Western conservative narratives are exported to Africa, African politicians see an opportunity to further criminalize same-sex persons. As we proudly and loudly showed up at the Beach Pride parade last week at the Botanical Gardens in Entebbe, we were simply demanding our right to peaceful assembly, expression, and association -- the same rights enjoyed by all other Ugandan citizens. Val Kalende is a Fellow at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and a doctoral student at the University of British Columbia. This article first appeared in The Huffington Post’s Gay Voices.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Clinton honors Ugandan human rights advocates

By Michael K. Lavers on August 3, 2012 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honored Ugandan human rights advocates on Friday (Blade photo by Michael Key) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday honored a group of Ugandan human rights activists at a ceremony in the country’s capital. Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, was among the members of the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law who received the State Department’s 2011 Human Rights Defenders Award at the U.S. Embassy in Kampala. Both Clinton and Assistant Secretary of African Affairs Johnnie Carson thanked Mugisha by name for his advocacy on behalf of LGBT Ugandans. “I’ve said before it is critical for all Ugandans — the government and citizens alike — to speak out against discrimination, harassment and intimidation of anyone. That’s true no matter where they come from, what they believe or whom they love,” said Clinton. “No one has been a stronger champion than all of you. You’ve been organized, disciplined, and savvy. You have marshaled the evidence and made the arguments using the rights enshrined in Uganda’s constitution and in international law. And by doing so, you are a model for others and an inspiration to the world.” Clinton said she discussed the so-called Anti-Homosexuality Bill that once contained a provision that would have imposed the death penalty upon anyone found guilty of repeated same-sex sexual acts and ongoing violence against LGBT Ugandans during a meeting with President Yoweri Museveni earlier in the day. She also visited a clinic for people with HIV/AIDS funded by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Both Clinton and President Obama urged the Ugandan government to protect the rights of its LGBT residents following the Jan. 2011 murder of gay activist David Kato inside his Kampala home. The White House and British Prime Minister David Cameron have also suggested that a country’s LGBT rights record should play a role in the allocation of foreign aid. “I’m well aware that you do your work often amidst difficult, even dangerous circumstances. I know that some of your lives have been threatened, your friends and families intimidated. But I want you to know that the United States is and will be your partner,” Clinton told the activists. “I raised these issues with President Museveni today, because this isn’t just about carving out special privileges for any one group; this is about making sure universal rights are protected for all people. A violation of anyone’s rights is a violation of everyone’s rights.” She reiterated this message in separate remarks to embassy staffers and their families. “A few minutes ago, I presented the State Department’s 2011 Human Rights Defenders Award to the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law. This is, as many of you know, a group of brave men and women standing up for universal human rights right here in Uganda, not to carve out special privileges for any group, but to ensure that universal rights are shared by all people,” said Clinton. “We very much know the importance of this, because Uganda has so many talented people — men and women — and we want to see everybody have a chance to live up to their own God-given potential, to make a contribution to themselves, their families and to society and their country.” Mugisha echoed Clinton’s sentiments. “As Secretary Clinton stated, this prestigious human rights award emphasizes what we’ve been saying all along: we are not asking for special treatment. We are simply asking that the same rights afforded to every other Ugandan by our constitution and international law also be applied to the LGBTI community,” he told the Blade. “We are grateful for the support of Secretary Clinton in this work as we face tremendous opposition by Ugandan religious leaders and parliamentarians who want to make criminals out of human rights defenders and civil society organizations.” Clinton began her 11-day trip to Africa in Senegal on Tuesday. She traveled to Uganda from South Sudan and will visit Kenya, Malawi and South Africa before returning to the U.S. on Aug. 10.

Monday, August 6, 2012


Yet Activists pull off historic pride event! Melanie Nathan, August 4, 2012 For several weeks and with great excitement Ugandan LGBT activists have been building a Beach Pride event. The idea was to celebrate with friends and to hold a private party for those who wanted to attend. Activists kept the Pride event under wraps and a few of us bloggers in the international community, who had knowledge of it, decided not to report the event until it was successfully over. However it would seem that the police persecution included spying on the privacy of the group of activists who had been organizing the event as a private party. Instead of reporting purely on its success I have to report on the unwarranted arrests. Yet in doing so and after speaking to activists, I soon realized that even with police harassment, the event was full of fun and pride, with its success enhanced by the unyielding and brave determination of a group of people so severely persecuted. In Uganda it is illegal to commit an act “against the order of nature.” Homosexuality has been interpreted as illegal under this definition. But nowhere is it legal to break up an innocent party, even if the attendees proclaim to be LGBT. The law seeking to ban the so called and ill defined “promotion of homosexuality” has yet to pass Parliament. Nonetheless Entebbe police raided the party and have arrested my friends. Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) under the strongest terms condemns the raid of the Uganda Beach Pride Parade and arrest of Human and gay rights activists, who included the Director of FARUG and the coordinator of Pride Uganda; Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, Jay Abang; the programs manager of FARUG; Ms. Stella Nyanzi; a Human Rights Defender; Sandra Ntebi and Julie; Lerato a South African on media team, Rachael Adams and visitors from other counties. Police stormed the venue where people had gathered after a beach march and ordered the party to stop and that no one should leave the area. Police are believed to have been tipped off by either a small group of Christians who were for baptism a few yards away or by the local of the area who had gathered to witness the pride event. However according to word I have received the police told activists that they were arrested because of “orders from above.” This indicates the authorities were spying on organizers and knew about the event which was not made public. Iy also indicates a continued drive to persecute the LGBT community in Uganda, regardless of the legality of the gatherings. Police alleged that there was a gay marriage taking place and that two gay men were seen kissing. They then declared that the gathering was unlawful and wanted to arrest the whole group. Kasha and group then volunteered to go to the police station to give a statement. Upon arrival, they found another group that was part of the pride team that had prior been arrested. By press time, they had been all been released. In an interview with Jay Abang, she said “…I feel like our rights have been trampled upon. It is becoming a habit of police to interrupt our gatherings. It is as if a section of Ugandans do not deserve certain rights. The laws and bills have not been passed but police is already enforcing them” It should be noted that police have so far raided and closed down two workshops that have been organized and attended by members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community in Uganda, earlier this year, one being a capacity building workshop which was organized by FARUG in February and another which was organized by the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders in June. FARUG is urging that the entire LGBTI community to remain steadfast and strong and continue with all the remaining activities planned for Pride parade and film festival Uganda. this should not derail us form our objective of pride. We call upon the judicial system of Uganda to order an injunction against interruption of any activities organized and participated in by the LGBTI community in Uganda. “We call upon human rights activist, civil society, the nation and the international community to condemn police rampant and unlawful arrests of gay rights activists.” The Ugandan activists are amongst the most profoundly courageous human rights campaigners I have yet experienced. The amazing part of this story is that activists did not allow the arrests to stop the proceedings and a Pride event went on regardless with the continuation of the planned after party. The sad part was that Kasha, due to her detention was unable to attend. I checked in with her. She has been released and is doing well. But it was a great day for her she said, adding the fact that she had the great honor to meet U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who is visiting Uganda. ” We are going strong till we end our planned activities,” Kasha told me. “Even as I was put on the police van I kept telling our people do not be intimidated and that they should keep going on until pride is officially over.” I hope our international community will lend support.


Posted by Alexis Okeowo “Can you imagine that the worst place in the world to be gay is having Gay Pride?” Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera asked a crowd of cheering gay men, lesbians, transgendered men and women, and queers somewhere in between. It was Saturday afternoon, and we were on the shores of the giant, cloudy Lake Victoria in the Ugandan city of Entebbe, where L.G.B.T. activists had decided to stage the country’s first Pride Parade. Nabagesera, a lesbian activist covered, for the occasion, in glitter and neon spray paint, with homemade angel wings, was being half-sarcastic. A barrage of media coverage has painted the country as a hell for gays—a place where they are suffering and being attacked constantly—and, despite the need to combat such threats, L.G.B.T. Ugandans were tired of hearing a story that ignored their nuanced experiences of both joy and hardship. But Nabagesera was also sincerely pleased: a crowd of nearly a hundred people had come out, fears of arrest notwithstanding, to celebrate their existence. The air was thick with confetti, paint fumes, and anticipation. I’ve spent a couple of months this year working on a story about gay rights here, as an Alicia Patterson Foundation fellow, and was surprised to see that the narrative had made yet another unexpected turn. Though activists are in the middle of a lawsuit they filed against ethics and integrity minister Simon Lokodo, who has been on a zealous effort to shut down all gay-advocacy workshops and non-profits allied with L.G.B.T. activists, spirits were high to the point that a Pride event was not just wanted, but needed. Uganda’s Pride was a weekend-long event, made up of film screenings, a fashion show in drag, and all-night (and into the morning) parties. Two hundred and fifty tickets had been sold, though, as a vivacious trans woman named Cleo told me, fifty-some people showed up on Thursday and Friday, because many were still wary about gathering in large groups. “We couldn’t have done this kind of thing two years ago, and for those that were here back then, they almost can’t believe things are safer and better now,” Cleo said. The first two days went off without a hitch, and more people, predictably, showed up for the evening bacchanals. I took a bus from Kampala, the capital, to Entebbe on Saturday morning with a number of the participants. A trans woman named Bad Black showed me glamour photos taken of her at an L.G.B.T.-friendly studio in town: in them she is wearing a wig, dresses, and lingerie. Bad Black, who helps run a foundation that helps H.I.V.-positive L.G.B.T. Ugandans, was wearing typical male attire for the bus ride, but wore gold earrings and had short, fluffy curls. She can’t dress as a woman on a daily basis, but planned to change once we got to the lake. Nature, a cheerful trans woman sitting in front of us, plucked a photo to admire it and remarked, “Hmm, photos do lie.” The bus erupted into laughter. Several people, adorned in rainbow-patterned scarves and armbands, pulled out makeup compacts and started to apply bright eye shadow and lipstick. We made noisy stops along the highway to pick up more attendees, and passersby, curious about the laughter and music, peered inside. The botanical grounds around the lake are a languid picnic destination for families and couples, but relatively secluded: an ideal location for a parade that was still on shaky ground, safety-wise. At the area reserved for the festival, participants wore yellow wristbands to identify themselves to each other and let loose. People swam, drank, and danced as a D.J. played loud music. I met people like Akram, who operates a “gay-video library.” Activist Frank Mugisha, who appeared dressed in a sailor’s costume with a rainbow sash and called himself Captain Pride, told me, “I just wish I had a switch to turn on that would make everyone who’s gay say they are gay. Then everyone who is homophobic can realize their brothers, their sisters, and their aunts are gay.” He confessed that he was shocked to see so many people in attendance. As the parade began, in a convoy of marchers and cars blasting more music, people held up signs like “African and Gay. Not a Choice.” Children who lived nearby flocked to the parade, and adults stared, clearly stunned, and, in some cases, amused. The marchers chanted, “We are here” (a reference to those who say that there are no gays in Africa), and danced and sang in a chorus that was at once moving and exciting under a rainstorm of ribbons and flags. Nabagesera’s German shepherd trotted around in a rainbow-colored handkerchief. A woman named Claire said, “Even if Lokodo came today, he could not stop us.” But Lokodo did come, or at least the police did. Hours after the parade ended, police raided the gathering, supposedly because they had heard a gay wedding was taking place, and arrested three participants, detained a photographer, and demanded statements from others, reminding all of the threats that gays still face. The station police chief eventually released them, and celebrations continued in Kampala. On Sunday, closing events went as planned. One participant, Ambrose, who was in charge of selling Pride-themed T-shirts, explained that the dynamics of being gay in Uganda have changed: “This is who we are. We are here to stay. And we are not going anywhere.” Read more