Standing in solidarity with gay Ugandans

I try to be very careful of how I critique issues in other countries and cultural contexts so I will keep this very short and to the point. But I am deeply disturbed by the anti-gay law that will most likely pass in Uganda.

Uganda’s parliamentary speaker said she wanted to pass as a “Christmas gift” for Ugandans an anti-gay law, which rights groups have criticized for its draconian penalties against homosexuals.

The bill had initially proposed the death penalty for gays in the conservative east African country but still presents an array of jail terms for convicted homosexuals, including life imprisonment in certain circumstances.

Existing legislation already outlaws gay sex. The new bill prohibits the “promotion” of gay rights and punishes anyone who “funds or sponsors homosexuality” or “abets homosexuality”.

Kadaga said it was still possible to pass the bill this year although there was little time remaining before the House went on recess for Christmas holidays.

“It’s very, very possible, we can do it,” Kadaga said.

While we fight for marriage equality in the US, gay Ugandans are hoping for the right to exist. I can not speak for them, but this blatant violation of human rights is reckless and counterproductive. It is based on dangerous misconceptions about queer people. It disenfranchises and criminalizes people who could otherwise contribute positively to their community. It threatens the lives of many who were already experiencing discrimination.

For now, we can only hope for the best and align ourselves in solidarity.


Ugandan anti-gay bill is poised to pass (and what westerners should do about it)

Ugandan hit list further confirms an age of rampant homophobia

Must-see TV: Rachel Maddow interviews author of Uganda’s “kill the gays” bill


Feministing's resident "sexpert", Sesali is a published writer and professional shit talker. She is a queer Black girl, fat girl, and trainer. She was the former Training Director at the United States Student Association and later a member of the Youth Organizing team at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She received her bachelors in Women's and Gender Studies from Depaul University in 2012 and is currently pursuing a master's in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality studies at Georgia State University in Atlanta. A self identified "trap" feminist, and trained with a reproductive justice background, her interests include the intersections of feminism and: pop culture, youth culture, social media, hip hop, girlhood, sexuality, race, gender, and Beyonce. Sesali joined the team in 2010 as one of the winners of our So You Think You Can Blog contest.

is Feministing's resident sexpert and cynic.

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  • Ian

    “I try to be very careful of how I critique issues in other countries and cultural contexts[...]”

    Why? Do violent bigots on other continents require kid gloves while non-violent bigots on this continent don’t? Do gay people in Washington, Minnesota, Maine, and Maryland deserve our hard work, time, and resources while gay people in Uganda only get “solidarity” (whatever that means) and best wishes?

  • Alexa Conradi

    I think it is also important to add that USA Christian religious institutions are also playing a role in what is happening in Uganda. It would be helpful for US activists to find a way to curtail the role of the US religious right in other countries.

    • Ian

      Alexa, I thought the same too. Luckly the asskickers at the Center for Constitutional Rights were two steps ahead of us.

      The law they are using has often been used to fight corporate-connected human rights violations. That said, I’m no expert on that law and there seem to be some First Amendment issues. Saying gay people deserve to be killed or thrown in prison for life is protected speech, but the Center said what he did crossed over into actions, which are not protected. I’m not sure where that line is.

  • Stephen Cox

    “I try to be very careful of how I critique issues in other countries and cultural contexts”

    This is a big problem with the modern Left in general, and one of the reasons we have become so feckless as an international political force. When did we stop believing in human rights? Human rights are human rights, regardless of “cultural context” or whatever silly gods, religions, and traditions one chooses to use to justify denying those rights to others.

  • Penny White

    “I try to be very careful of how I critique issues in other countries and cultural contexts…”
    Buzz!!!! Wrong answer! Cultural relativism is right up there with moral relativism as a refuge for cowards. This law is barbaric and inexcusable. This is not about “culture” this is about ignorance and cruelty. Perhaps I am biased, being the mother of a gay child, but Grrrrrrrrr!

  • radicalstarfish

    The best way to align ourselves in solidarity is to fully respect and listen to LGBTI Ugandan activists themselves. Below is a statement that was recently put out by the LGBTI rights coalition of Uganda.


    Dear Partners, friends and colleagues,

    We thank you for all the support you have a accorded the Coalition since the tabling of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in 2009, and we look forward to your continued collaboration in the struggle to see this bill dismissed once and for all.

    In response to the recent claims made by the Hon Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament that she would see the Anti-Homosexuality Bill passed before this year comes to a close, we urge you to adhere to the following Action Alert Guidelines and to always seek clarification where there is a difference of opinion on tactics or where there is confusion or need for further information.

    We encourage you to:

    1. Urgently engage with the leadership of the nation (the President, the Prime Minister, the Leader of Opposition, The Speaker, the Minister for Gender Labor and Social Development, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Ethics and Integrity, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Justice and any other Cabinet Ministers that you can engage with, the Inspector General of Police and the Principal Judge) to impress upon them the needlessness and imminent harm of this bill. This must however been done diplomatically and off the media. There should not be any media/public admonitions PLEASE!

    2. Engage with any non-LGBTI partner organizations in Uganda that you may collaborate with or whom you fund to establish what their thinking is on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, as well as their thinking on other related legislative moves such as the proposal to amend the Penal Code in line with the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill. We would strongly encourage other mainstream Ugandan organizations such as human rights NGOs and entities like the Uganda Law Society to speak out strongly against the impartiality of the speaker as well as this draconian bill. 3. Draw international public attention to issues such as corruption (tagging it to the recent corruption cases in the Ministry of Public Service and the Office of the Prime Minister), human trafficking, nodding disease in northern, land-grabbing, as well as the suppression of media freedom and civil society space, so that attention shifts to where it properly belongs; in the best interests of the country’s population as a whole. 4. Go ahead with any preparations of statements, campaigns, and other public documents for when the bill appears on the Order Paper of Parliament (you will be alerted when this happens) as well as for a worst-case scenario in which the Bill is passed into law. 5. Contribute physical, financial, or technical support to the LGBTI community as well as the exposed Human Rights Defenders working with LGBTI rights who are likely to begin to be arrested and charged almost as soon as the Bill is passed. The entire leadership of the Uganda Coalition has decided that any such assistance shall be channeled through a central point at the CSCHRCL secretariat from where it shall be communally managed. 6. Engage with your policy makers to take stronger measures to ensure that LGBTI issues are mainstreamed into calls for proposals, grant agreements, project design, implementation and evaluation as part of a long term strategy to establish LGBTI friendly services and programmes for all Ugandans as an inclusive practice. We urge that you do NOT:

    1. Put out any public press statements on the Bill for now. But you can express your opinion if asked about the Bill. However this opinion must be candid and practical without being ‘insulting’. 2. Make strong public statements threatening to cut aid or in support of such threats in response to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, as this can lead to scape-goating of the LGBTI community as well as Human Rights Defenders working with LGBTI rights and whip up sentiments for the Bill. Please note; We would like Ugandans to take charge of this campaign for now. Only if the Bill is mentioned/programmed in the Business of Parliament or passed into law shall we encourage a fully-fledged international outcry which can come in all forms such as; Public statements (written or spoken), public letters, solidarity campaigns, peaceful protests, interviews, opinion pieces et cetera.

    Jeff on :
    Clare on — in Kampala, Uganda.

  • aria

    I refuse to tolerate another culture’s intolerance and hate towards minorities based on their ideoligies the same way I refuse to tolerate a patriarchal’s cultures violence and subordination against women. I do not tolerate nor do I support repressive laws of another culture and I am not going to be “careful.”