In recent years, Uganda has been in the news a lot due to their highly controversial “Kill the Gays” Bill. Uganda is unfortunately not an outlier in the criminalization of homosexuality, but the recent attempt to make this lifestyle a capital offense has outraged people all over the world and sparked a highly publicized Gay liberation struggle. While these struggles currently exist throughout the continent, Uganda’s anti-Gay sentiments offer a unique insight into the lasting effects of British colonialism. Laws that forbade homosexuality were built into the Ugandan penal code dating back to around 19th and 20th century British occupation. Since independence, not much has changed regarding Gay rights and protections against homophobia. Similarly, attitudes towards homosexuality are almost exclusively negative and the Gay community is often ostracized for their efforts.
Another reason Uganda’s struggle for Gay liberation has garnered a lot of attention from the media in the United States is due to the influence of American evangelicals and their financial influence through charity. In 2009, three American evangelical Christians went to Uganda and attended a three-day event about the “Gay Agenda” and its threat to the African family. Shortly after the conference, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 — also known as the “Kill the Gays” Bill — was introduced by a Ugandan politician. Similarly, some nonprofit organizations, like Invisible Children, have come under fire for being funded by conservative Christian groups which places their agenda into question.
Uganda also offers some inspiration for Gay liberation struggles around the world. Despite the harsh reality for people who identify as LGBTQ and their allies, the community joined together and hosted a Pride celebration for the first time in 2012. The community is planning on gathering again this year to exert their rights to survival, equality and human rights. The ability to organize despite real obstacles serves as a reminder for all of us that organizing works.
by David Tapper