Post submitted by Rebecca Parks, former Associate Director, HRC Global
Last night, the Oscar short-listed documentary God Loves Uganda was featured on Independent Lens and premiered on PBS stations nationwide. It highlights the role that some American evangelicals had in the creation of the toxic anti-LGBT climate there. Tragically, the situation for LGBT Ugandans has continued to deteriorate in recent months, and last week brought very disturbing new information from activists on the ground.
After almost five months in prison without bail, reports indicate that both defendants facing the first-ever trial under Uganda’s anti-homosexuality laws are now free on bail. Kim Mukisa and Jackson Mukasa are being charged under Uganda’s long-standing law against homosexual relations while the country’s recently passed law that intensifies penalties faces a constitutional review. While the two are now free, they are still facing a maximum penalty of life in prison when their trial resumes on June 12, although proceedings could be further delayed by ongoing court challenges to the country’s anti-sodomy laws.
The trial of Mukisa and Mukasa is only a small part of the anti-LGBT wave that is engulfing Uganda. On Sunday, the advocacy group Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) released a report indicating that passage of the anti-gay law earlier this year has led to a tenfold increase in violence against LGBT people. Their survey recorded over 150 incidents of violence, including an attempted lynching, mob violence, homes burned down, blackmail, lost jobs, arrests, evictions and suicides. Even before the report could be released, last week saw harassment ramp up again with police arresting a trans woman who called to report that an anti-gay mob was threatening her with violence.
"The passing of AHA has given permission to a culture of extreme and violent homophobia whereby both state and non-state actors are free to persecute Uganda's LGBTI people with impunity," the report states.
President Museveni and some members of his cabinet traveled to London last week for a series of meetings with their British counterparts. While in London, Finance Minister Maria Kiwanuka maintained that it was all just “a lot of heat and dramatization” and that Uganda had seen no ill effects from the passage of the anti-homosexuality bill, even as one of President Museveni’s speeches was interrupted by human rights protestors and conditions on the ground for LGBT Ugandans continue to spiral out of control.