- August 6, 2015
Post submitted by Pride Uganda Coordinator Richard Lusimbo
Despite the dangers facing the LGBT community in Uganda, this year marks the fourth annual pride celebration in Kampala.
On Wednesday night, Pride Uganda kicked off the 2015 celebration with an opening cocktail reception. More than 160 people joined us in Kampala, bringing people together from across the community to show their support for LGBT Ugandans. We thank HRC for supporting this event as a partner and for inviting their corporate partners to the event.
The rest of the week will be full of events that celebrate the LGBT community. On Thursday, we will raise awareness of the transgender community in Uganda and host an open discussion about health in the LGBT community. On Friday, pride will honor two Ugandans with the titles of Mr. & Miss Pride. On Saturday, the last day of pride, we will have the third annual pride parade, showing all of Uganda that we are here, we are proud and we are in this together.
Though Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act was overturned last year on procedural grounds, there continues to be indications that some Ugandan politicians are still looking to push through another similar piece of legislation. The now-defunct law punished "aggravated homosexuality" with life imprisonment. The law also put obstacles in the way of those who advocate for LGBT equality by prohibiting the so-called “promotion of homosexuality.”
Following the court decision to overturn the law, Member of Parliament David Bahati, an outspoken proponent and sponsor of the bill, held a press conference and pledged to appeal the decision to Uganda’s Supreme Court.
My organization, Sexual Minorities Uganda - SMUG, released a report last year indicating that the introduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Act led to a tenfold increase in violence against LGBT people. We recorded 162 incidents of violence, including an attempted lynching, mob violence, blackmail, lost jobs, arrests, evictions and suicides.
To oppose this uptick in violence and to make clear that we are part of society and the culture of Uganda, Pride Uganda’s theme this year is “We are Family.” We want to show our communities that we value our families and our relationships and that we are not simply LGBT outcasts. LGBT people can be someone’s brother, sister, friend, cousin, niece or uncle. Those relationships matter, and we urge our families to support us and welcome us.
Due to security concerns, our events this week will be held in secret locations. However, the fact that we are here and that we are gathering together as a community of LGBT people and allies sends a clear message: We are not afraid. We are proud. We are hopeful.
The support of HRC means so much to our community. It sends the message that we are a part of a larger, global movement and that through hard work, we can change Uganda.