Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill already fuelling violence, activist says: ‘It’s not going to stop’
Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill isn’t yet law, but already the community is feeling its effects.
The country’s parliament passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in March, but president Yoweri Museveni hasn’t yet signed it into law. The legislation would make it illegal to identify as LGBTQ+, and anyone found guilty could face up to 20 years in prison.
The bill also creates a crime of “aggravated homosexuality” which cites rape, child sexual abuse and incest, and is punishable by death.
For Uganda’s LGBTQ+ community, it’s a terrifying time. DeLovie Kwagala, a Ugandan photojournalist who’s currently based in South Africa, has partnered with other activists and allies to launch a GoFundMe fundraiser with the goal of keeping the queer community afloat in a turbulent time.
The fundraiser, which has already raised more than £19,000, aims to help LGBTQ+ people with relocation costs, emergency accommodation, legal and medical fees and transportation costs for those fleeing Uganda.
DeLovie tells PinkNews that they immediately started hearing from queer Ugandans pleading for help with accessing medication, food and mental health services after the bill was passed.
You may like to watch
“I think the biggest lesson that I’ve taken out of this is that being Black and queer is a death sentence, even in this era,” DeLovie says.
“You are hunted for being Black but at the same time you are also hunted for being queer. Visibility without protection is also a death sentence.
“For me personally I feel like the bill is heartbreaking, but it’s not just about the bill passing. This violence against queer people has been happening over and over again.”
DeLovie points to the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2014, commonly known as the Kill the Gays bill. Its original version contained a death penalty clause, later changed to life in prison. The legislation was passed and became law, but was struck down by the courts on procedural grounds.
They continue: “When parliament starts talking about homosexuality and lying to parents, guess what: society feels that it’s OK to take matters into their own hands.
“This is why even before the bill is signed we have cases of violence – we already have people being thrown out.
“We have people who are completely of capable of doing work but no one is employing us. We are having a crisis of mental health that we are thinking before the government kills us, the depression is going to kill us anyway.
“There’s a crisis of housing, there’s a crisis of medication because people are being beaten and they can’t even get to the hospital.”
Uganda’s LGBTQ+ community is ‘shattered’ by anti-gay bill
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill is just the latest chapter in Uganda’s ongoing attacks on LGBTQ+ rights – but it resonates as particularly painful for a community that is so regularly under siege.
“The bill doesn’t allow for queer life in Uganda because without rights, what are we? We need more visibility and courage from people who have the platforms, to amplify our voices, because many of us can’t really speak.
“I’m scared for my life and my people’s life because at the end of the day I’m still Ugandan.”
That’s why DeLovie and other activists are now desperately crowdfunding to support Uganda’s most vulnerable LGBTQ+ people in this time.
“The money is going directly to the people. In just two days we have 30 cases that still haven’t been processed so the demand is high but the capacity we have is not enough to hold all the needs that are coming in,” DeLovie says.
DeLovie and their loved ones are already paying a personal price for their activism – but that hasn’t deterred them from fighting for their community.
“My dad was in the hospital two days ago because he was literally so overwhelmed by everything that was coming at him. He’s a f**king old man that doesn’t even understand what being queer is and now they’re telling him that I’m out here giving away money and promoting homosexuality.
“I’m heartbroken, I’m shattered, but I also know that whether the bill is signed or not the violence is not going to stop. That’s what people need to know.”
DeLovie is urging queer people across the world to donate to their fundraiser and help support Uganda’s LGBTQ+ community.
“I would like to see more young queer influential people amplify our voices because this is not just a Ugandan queer issue.
“We need to come together in solidarity. The queer movement couldn’t have happened without solidarity and this is a human rights crisis – a crisis that needs our voices.”
MyPinkNews members are invited to comment on articles to discuss the content we publish, or debate issues more generally. Please familiarise yourself with our community guidelines to ensure that our community remains a safe and inclusive space for all.