Friday, August 12, 2011


Press statement
For Immediate release
10th August 2011

Over the years, we have been harassed, cajoled, insulted, discriminated against and referred to as beasts called inhuman, insane, sick, immoral and not upright thinking members of society.
We have been dismissed from schools, homes, jobs, churches, and other places.

We are taunted on streets, at home, in churches and all social places because of our sexual orientation and/or gender identity. In recent years there have been arrests of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual and Transgender [LGBT) people. We live in constant fear and have to hide behind masks to protect our identities. Those that are outside the masks have to face injustices that society points at them.

The Penal Code is interpreted as criminalizing homosexuality and homosexual individuals.
Although it does not mention sex between women, lesbians face it as rough as gay men trying to exist freely alongside heterosexuals. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill in 2009 has made it hard for LGBT people to live happily in Uganda. Reported cases of deaths and rape due to media witch hunt, wide spread homophobia through religious leaders and abuse of those in power to marginalize sexual minorities.

Homosexuals have for long been suppressed. We are economically and socially underpowered.
There are increased deaths among the LGBTI people from suicide, resulting from stigmatization and from HIV/AIDS and the like, It would lead you further into trouble if for instance you suffered from an STD and presented your partner as someone of your sex.
All around us are homophobic comments, actions and reports. This homophobia is given voice by the press, institutionalized by the Penal Code and given strength by politicians and religious leaders.

Early this year we lost a comrade, murdered in cold blood. David Kato stood out of the darkness to demand fair treatment and equality for fellow Homosexuals and Transgenders, the price he paid to fight for a safe place in Uganda was losing his life. Months after suffering the loss of David, the LGBT community suffered the loss of Samuel Odhiambo who committed suicide because he couldn’t take the misery any more. These are just a few of the cases of injustices that the LGBT community has got to deal with.
•We are not asking for extra rights, we are not asking for any kind of special treatment, but we are demanding for the rights enjoyed by the rest of the citizens of Uganda.
We are demanding that our existence is respected, and not subject us to degrading inhuman treatment.

We are demanding that unfair laws be repealed
We are demanding that those that spread homophobia be held accountable
We are demanding that you stop expelling us from schools, disowning us from our families
We are demanding that you include us in the National HIV/AIDS programs and other empowering programs
We demand because our rights are inherent and are enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda.

We are part of this society we are your children, doctors, employees, parents to mention a few. This is our country, we are Ugandans and Uganda belongs to all of us.

Join us in this fight to end Hatred towards Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and transgender people in Uganda. We are part of the development of this country. Discriminating us will not yield positive developments. This Campaign is to influence positive legislation through dialogue with policy makers, diplomatic missions, health service providers and the general community through the media. We are counting on an educated and enlightened media, working to inform the public not with myths and false stories, but with truths, to take this message of NO MORE HATE to the people of this country.

Today as Freedom and Roam Uganda, the entire Human Rights and LGBT community launch the HATE NO MORE Campaign, we want to also remind you that we are not here to recruit anyone into becoming a homosexual, we DONT RECRUIT, we have NEVER RECRUITED and we SHALL never RECRUIT. We only want to remind you that DISCRIMINATION RETARDS DEVELOPMENT.
We would also like to thank the Global Fund for Women, The Thiel Foundation and the Human Rights Foundation for supporting us in this campaign to end Hatred against LGBT people in

We are therefore calling on all Ugandans to join us in this campaign to create a safe space for fellow brothers and sisters of the Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender community

Kasha N. Jacqueline
Executive Director

Monday, July 5, 2010

Celebrating Our First Annual Leadership Insitute


In these days of struggle in our activism with so much to mourn about,
it is always welcome to be able to celebrate our activist spirit and resilience,
especially in the context of countries like Uganda where the assault on our dignity and freedom has attracted world-wide attention.

Today, we at FARUG are very pleased to share with you our news of the successful
completion of our 1st leadership Institute and General Assembly held
in Entebbe,Uganda from 20 - 24 June 2010.

The 5days we spent at the beach hotel were refreshing, amazing, educative, informative and fun.

The facilitators from the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL), Mentoring& Empowerment Program for Young Women (MEMPROW), HALEA were fabulous. The 25 members of FARUG were engaged and both inspiring and inspired. Many had to take work leave to attend the Institute and have reported being empowered and now more than ever ready to participate and lead the organisation into a new phase of feminist activism and human rights defending.

We gained knowledge about the Law and Human Rights, women's rights and feminism,
leadership, management and mentoring as well as economic empowerment, health and
transgender issues.

A Board of Directors was elected through free and fair elections and a
constitution was

The Institute was concluded with a searing in ceremony followed by a
celebratory party at the beach.

Thanks to the financial support from African Women Development Fund.(AWDF)

FARUG News Desk
Communications and Media

Friday, April 2, 2010

Press Release: March 31, 2009 Leading African clergy, personalities and civil society groups call on Uganda to stop the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Leading African clergy, personalities and civil society groups call on Uganda to stop the Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Leading African clergy and prominent individuals, as well as more than 60 civil society and human rights groups from 10 sub-Saharan African countries have endorsed a statement called on the President, Government and Parliament of Uganda to reject the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in its entirety.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill provides for severe punishment, inclusive of imprisonment, for those engaging in same sex relations, as well as for members of the public who fail to report such activities to the authorities. The original draft also provides for the death penalty and life imprisonment. The Bill has already gone through the first reading in Parliament and is now before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee. “We are very concerned that it could become law within a few weeks or months”, said Adrian Jjuuko, Coordinator of Uganda's Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law.

The statement has been endorsed by leading African clergy such as Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, the Archbishop of Uganda and Bishop of Kampala, the Most Reverend Henry Luke Orombi; the current Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Reverend Dr. Thabo Cecil Makgoba; the Suffragan Bishop of Kampala, the Right Reverend Zac Niringiye; and Bishop Jo Seoka, Bishop of Pretoria. In the declaration, the endorsing individuals and organizations reaffirm their commitment to the universality of the human rights of all persons. They note that “all forms of discrimination, in particular against vulnerable groups, undermine the human dignity of all in Africa”.

The individuals endorsing the statement include other leading members of the clergy, jurists, academics, truth commissioners and human rights activists. Their statement declares that the Bill “promotes prejudice and hate and encourages harmful and violent action against marginalized groups in Africa”.

“Civil society organisations throughout Africa are mobilizing to persuade Ugandan Parliamentarians to block this pernicious Bill”, said Godwin Bua, a lawyer with the Refugee Law Project in Kampala. “If it is passed, even in diluted form, it would constitute a massive setback for human rights in Africa”, Bua said.

The statement calls on African governments and the African Union to call on the President and Government of Uganda to withdraw the Bill and to respect the human rights of all in Uganda, without exception.
The list of individuals and organizations continues to grow and will be updated regularly. The full list can be viewed at and


We, the individuals and organisations from African countries listed hereunder, recognise the universality of the human rights of all persons.

We affirm that the right of men and women to have same sex relationships is a fundamental human right.

We are further guided in the knowledge that all forms of discrimination, in particular against vulnerable groups, undermine the human dignity of all in Africa.

We are therefore profoundly disturbed by the nature, content and potential impact of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill (“the Bill”) that was recently tabled in and is currently being considered by the Parliament of Uganda.

We believe that the Bill, if enacted, will cut deeply into the fabric of Ugandan society by–
• Violating the rights of an already vulnerable and severely stigmatised group of persons by attacking their dignity, privacy and other constitutionally protected rights;
• Disrupting family and community life by compelling everyone, by the threat of criminal sanction, to report those suspected of engaging in same-sex sexual activity;
• Seeking to withdraw Uganda from the family of nations by reneging on the country’s international law obligations;
• Undermining public health interventions such as HIV prevention, treatment, care and support;
• Promoting prejudice and hate and encouraging harmful and violent action to be taken against those engaging in same sex relations.
We respectfully call on the Parliament of Uganda to reject the Bill in its entirety.

We also call on African governments and the African Union to call on the President and Government of Uganda to withdraw the Bill and to respect the human rights of all in Uganda, without exception.

Statement endorsed by:-

African personalities include:[1]
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu (former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Former Chairperson of the South African Truth & Reconciliation Commission, former General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches, Recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize)

Most Reverend Dr. Thabo Cecil Makgoba (Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town)

Right Reverend Zac Niringiye (Suffragan Bishop of Kampala)

Bishop Jo Seoka (Bishop of Pretoria)

Reverend Canon Gideon Byamugisha, (Ordained Priest in the Church of Uganda, Recipient of the 2009 Niwano Peace Prize)

Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza SC (Acting Judge of the Cape High Court, Member of the South African Judicial Services Commission, Member of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur, former Commissioner of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, National Chairperson of Advocates for Transformation)

Reverend Bongani Blessing Finca (former Commissioner of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Provincial Electoral Officer for the Eastern Cape, South Africa)

Dr. A. Atia Apusigah (Department of African Studies, University for Development Studies, Ghana)

Yasmin Sooka (former Commissioner of the South African & Sierra Leonean Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, former Acting Judge of the High Court of South Africa, Director of the Foundation for Human Rights)
Kader Asmal, (Honorary Professor, University of the Western Cape; former South African Minister of Education, Barrister of Lincoln's Inn, London; former Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Trinity College; founding member of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement, former Chairperson of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement, former member of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress)
Dr. Alexander Lionel Boraine (Former President of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, Chairperson of the Mauritian Truth & Reconciliation Commission, Former Deputy-Chairperson of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission)

Dipak Patel, (former Director-General of Transport in the South African Government and senior officer of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress)

Dr Fazel Randera (former Commissioner of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, former Inspector-General of Intelligence, former National Chairperson of the South African Human Rights Committee)

Mary Burton (former Commissioner of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, former President of the Black Sash, Deputy Chairperson of the Council of the University of Cape Town, Recipient of National Order of Luthuli Award)

African based Civil Society Organisations:

1. Africa Centre for HIV/Aids Management (South Africa)
2. African Council of AIDS Service Organizations (Senegal)
3. African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (Cameroon)
4. AIDS Consortium (South Africa)
5. AIDS Law Project (South Africa)
6. AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (Namibia)
7. Amnesty International East Africa (Uganda)
8. Anti-Privatisation Forum (South Africa)
9. Artists for a New South Africa (South Africa)
10. Association for Progressive Communications (South Africa)
11. Centre for Social Accountability (South Africa)
12. Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (Malawi)
13. Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention (South Africa)
14. Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (South Africa)
15. Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law (Uganda)
16. Clinton Health Access Initiative (Uganda)
17. Coalition to End Discrimination (South Africa)
18. Development for Peace Education (Sierra Leone)
19. Engender (South Africa)
20. Equal Education (South Africa)
21. Fahamu, African Networks for Social Justice (Kenya)
22. Foundation for Human Rights (South Africa)
23. Freedom and Roam Uganda (Uganda)
24. Gay Umbrella (South Africa)
25. Gender DynamiX (South Africa)
26. Grassroots Movement for Health and Development (Malawi)
27. Gun Free South Africa (South Africa)
28. Health4Men (South Africa)
29. History Department of Rhodes University (South Africa)
30. Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (Uganda)
31. Human Rights Media Centre (South Africa)
32. Human Rights Institute of South Africa (South Africa)
33. Human Rights Watch (South Africa)
34. Independent Medico Legal Unit (Kenya)
35. International Center for Transitional Justice (South Africa)
36. International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (South Africa)
37. Intersex South Africa (South Africa)
38. Kenya Human Rights Commission (Kenya)
39. Kubatana Trust (Zimbabwe)
40. Labour Research Service (South Africa)
41. Lesbian and Gay Equality Project (South Africa)
42. Legal Assistance Centre (Namibia)
43. OUT LGBT Well-Being (South Africa)
44. Out In AFrica Gay & Lesbian Film Festival (South Africa)
45. Pambazuka News (Kenya)
46. People Opposing Women Abuse (South Africa)
47. Public Service Accountability Monitor; Centre for Social Accountability (South Africa)
48. Rainbow UCT (South Africa)
49. Refugee Law Project (Uganda)
50. Rural Health Advocacy Project (South Africa)
51. Sexual Minorities (Uganda)
52. Social Justice Coalition (South Africa)
53. Sonke Gender Justice Network (South Africa)
54. South African History Archive (South Africa)
55. Southern Africa Litigation Centre (South Africa)
56. Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (South Africa)
57. Students for Law & Social Justice (South Africa)
58. Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme (South Africa)
59. Treatment Action Campaign (South Africa)
60. Uhspa-Uganda (Uganda)
61. Women's Academic Solidarity Association of Rhodes University (South Africa)
62. Women’s Legal Centre (South Africa)
63. Women'sNet (South Africa)

Inquiries: Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, Kampala:

Adrian Jjuuko: +256 - 782 - 169 – 505,;
Godwin Buwa: +256-782-764-269,
Chris Dolan: +256 782 76 4269,

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

FARUG Director, Kasha Jacqueline Speaks to AWID on Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Ugandan lesbian activist Kasha Jacqueline speaks about being lesbian in Uganda, and discusses the infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill currently before the country’s parliament. Kasha is the Coordinator of Freedom and Roam Uganda.

By Kathambi Kinoti

AWID: Please tell us about Freedom and Roam Uganda and how it was started.

KASHA JACQUELINE: Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) is the only exclusively lesbian, bisexual and transgender organization in Uganda. It was started by three lesbian-identified women on July 4, 2003 in a bar which at the time the media frequently called a lesbian bar. Many lesbian women who heard the news started coming to the bar to hang out and make new friends. Earlier, in April 2003 we had been approached by a group of men who claimed to have a lesbian organization by the name Makerere University Students Lesbians Association. When we asked them where the lesbians were and why it was led by men, they said that the women were “shy.” Later we did some research and learnt that these men were not university students nor did any such organization exist.

AWID: Why do you think they would do this?

KJ: Simply because they wanted to use women for their own agendas. Otherwise why would a group of men claim to be a lesbian organization?

After this incident we decided to take up the idea of forming our own lesbian organization. We then brainstormed about what to call ourselves and what the organization would look like. It wasn’t easy because when we introduced it to other lesbians they had mixed feelings. Some wanted it to just be a social club but some of us wanted it to have a political component. At this time, many people had come to know about us and the bar in which we met and would wait for us outside in order to harass us as we left. We argued that it didn’t make sense for us to meet everyday, drink, smoke, and talk about women and sex, and then leave the bar only to get harassed on our way home. This issue introduced some friction into the newly formed organization and some people left including one founder member who had wanted it to be strictly a social club.

The rest of us who still wanted to be part of the group decided that those who wanted to participate in it only to the extent of socializing would have space to do so, and those who wanted to use it as a forum for their political activism could go ahead so long as they wouldn’t expose the names or identities of those who didn’t want didn’t want these revealed to the outside world. And since then FARUG has never looked back.

AWID: What is the situation like for lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Uganda today, even without the obnoxious Bill that is currently before parliament?

KJ: Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda. For many people and institutions, it is a no- go area. Many of us have been expelled from schools just for writing love letters to our same-sex lovers, something our heterosexual colleagues are not expelled for. My principal at university even made me sign a memorandum of understanding that I would not go anywhere within a radius of 100 metres of the girls' hostels because I am a lesbian! So many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons have been expelled, sacked from jobs and sent away from families. Many do not receive appropriate and necessary healthcare services for fear of revealing their sexual orientation, identity or preferences. Transgender individuals and lesbians have been subjected to ‘curative’ rape and the perpetrators in most of the cases recorded come from the victims’ immediate families.

LGBTI persons if identified are harassed on the streets, in public recreation centres and churches. Many have been evicted from their houses by landlords. I was once thrown out of a public taxi[i]because a woman who identified me as a lesbian said she would rather pay for the empty space beside her than have me sit in the same vehicle as her. When I got out of the taxi she continued to shout and draw attention to me. Some bodaboda[ii] riders stationed nearby heard her and one of them whom I didn’t identify hit me on the head with a hard, sharp object. So it is really not a safe environment for LGBTI persons, especially those of us who are out and are actively doing advocacy work to end the criminalization.

AWID: Of grave concern is the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 currently pending before Parliament. What the Bill is about, and what are its implications for LGBTI individuals?

KJ: Currently, section 140 of the Ugandan Penal Code criminalizes ‘carnal knowledge against the order of nature’ with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Section 141 punishes ‘attempts’ at carnal knowledge with a maximum of seven years’ imprisonment. Section 143 punishes acts of ‘gross indecency’ with up to five years in prison. While the Penal Code does not specifically refer to same-sex practices between women, lesbians face the same hostility from both state and non-state actors.

The 2009 Anti-Homosexuality Bill expands the range of same-sex relations that would be criminalized regardless of whether or not the parties are consenting adults. It introduces an offence known as “aggravated homosexuality” for which the penalty is death. People living with HIV and AIDS who engage in same-sex relations are one of the categories of people who would be affected by this offence. Anyone who 'aids' or 'abets' homosexuality will also face criminal penalties.

Generally this Bill is just an additional proposed piece legislation to further criminalize and abuse the rights of LGBTI persons. There is currently a lot of public incitement from high profile persons like religious leaders, Ministers, Members of Parliament and so on. This has further victimized LGBTI persons: The people in power and the State that is supposed to protect us are instead calling for harsher laws against us. It is very scary not to know what the future holds for you especially when it includes facing death. Many of us are now underground for fear of abuse by State and non-state actors since lots of allegations and lies are being fuelled in the public. Many people who didn’t even have a problem with us before are now being influenced and by the anti-gay crusaders who are saying all sorts of things about us. There are allegations that members of the LGBTI community recruit children, break up families and spread HIV/AIDS through sodomy. Some cannot even go to church because every sermon is about how sick we are and what sinners we are. There is a lot of talk about how we have dirty sex from eating our faeces to urinating in our mouths. This has made the public so angry that they are ready to strike at homosexuals. Many of us are now back in the closet. I am forced to work from home now for fear of being beaten on the streets since I make frequent television appearances.

The tension and mistrust within the LGBTI community is high and there are some reports of LGBTI individuals blackmailing others. During social events one is never sure that there aren’t spies present and many LGBTI persons are now confined to their own homes. Some of our own activists are making claims that we are indeed recruiters.

AWID: Media reports imply that the Bill's proposer, [Member of Parliament] David Bahati has the financial backing of powerful right-wing evangelicals in the United States, but President Yoweri Museveni seems to have given an indication that the Bill might not succeed in its present form. How likely is it that the Bill will succeed?

KJ: We have to remember that the Bill is a Private Member’s Bill and so the President can only wait for what comes out of Parliament before deciding whether he signs it into law or not. For now, Parliament is an independent organ which cannot be directly influenced by the President, although, just like any other Ugandan, he can comment on it. My concern is that when the Bill first came into Parliament, Museveni was very clear that homosexuality is “immoral and abnormal.” Now that perhaps he has been “enlightened” that he would be violating his citizens’ human rights, he has softened his position because he knows that the donor countries that fund the Government respect human rights and that they wouldn’t spend their citizens’ taxes giving aid to a country that doesn’t respect its citizens’ human rights.

The Bill should either be withdrawn or debated as it is without any amendments to “soften” it. The public has not been sufficiently educated on its provisions and I believe if they were, they would see that it doesn’t just affect LGBTI individuals but has serious implications for everyone in Uganda.

AWID: You say that the Bill has implications for everyone in the country. What would criminalizing homosexual relations mean for anti HIV/AIDS campaigns in particular?

KJ: The Bill is going to throw away all the years of work that Uganda has put into fighting HIV/AIDS. I wonder whether the MP who introduced this Bill or some of the other leaders who support it really want Uganda to win the fight against HIV/AIDS. So many HIV positive LGBTI individuals were in the closet even before the Bill. How many more will remain in the closet, and how many who were already out will be forced to go back? Government campaigns against the disease have not been comprehensive enough to reach LGBTI individuals. Many men who have sex with men (MSM) and women who have sex with women (WSW), live double lives and this fuels the spread of HIV. Many interventions against HIV/AIDS ignore WSW assuming that they are at a low risk of contracting the virus. Yet many of them also have sex with men and do not always have the power to negotiate for safe sex. They do not have adequate information about how some practices such as sharing sex toys or needles can expose them to the risk of contracting HIV.

LGBTI organizations in Uganda have been doing great work to inform and educate the LGBTI community about the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. If the Bill passes, we will have to stop this work. Driving this community further underground is going to negate all the gains that we have achieved.

AWID: What have you, and other LGBTI activists been doing to oppose the passage of the Bill?

KJ: We have partnered with human rights, women’s rights, feminist, donor and health organizations to spread awareness about the adverse effects and implications of the Bill. We have also lobbied our allies and partners nationally, regionally and internationally to strongly throw their weight behind the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law which was formed to oppose the Bill. This partnership has opened up valuable spaces for public hearings and debates including in the media. Without these partnerships it would have been difficult to access any spaces at all. We are documenting every abuse and violation to help us in future work should the Bill pass into Law.

AWID: How can human rights advocates around the world assist you in opposing the proposed law and promoting the upholding of LGBTI rights in Uganda?

KJ: Our allies need to keep up the pressure on the Ugandan Government by signing petitions, speaking out openly and urging their governments not to waste their taxes on funding our Government since it regards LGBTI persons as secondary citizens.

The anti-gay crusaders are trying to force LGBTI persons out of our country and they know that many are scared. Uganda is where I was born and neither any person - including the President - nor any piece of paper has the power to force me out.

The Christmas Party That Was. December 19, 2009

Time Check: 15:30. Location: FARUG Office: We host our members to an end of year social gathering at our offices in a Kampala suburb. Members’ gathering is to mark the last day of a consultative meeting. Over 15 members stay behind to socialize since most of them have no Saturday plans. For some, broke.

17:00hrs: A police patrol car parks in front of our office gate. Armed policemen disembark and disperse around the area. Panic sends everyone into hiding. Everyone runs towards the high fence hoping to jump over it for safety. People climb the wall fence to fall over to the other side for safety. Our member, who also happens to be a football player and coach starts to cry for help fearing that if the armed men break in, that will be the end to her hard-earned profession. The Director in her bravery tells everyone to run so she can handle the armed men ‘herself’. Hhmm..! Human bodies running up and down in confusion- someone tries to open the small emergency gate. The key stubbornly fails to open it. Bad luck always comes in times you need help most.

One of our members mounts the roof of the pit latrine in the compound, the only route for escape. A story is told of someone who ran back inside to switch off an office computer but failed to locate its shut down option. ‘How is this computer switched off?’ she asked. Panic at its best.

The Office Administrator, fell from a wall fence last night, injured her ankle and now shw in her room sleeping with a swollen leg. ‘I ran to her room to tell her that police was at our gate and on hearing the scary news she tried to jump out of bed to ran for her dear life but instead hurt herself, sat on the floor and wailed like a baby’, narrates a friend.

After 20 minutes of panic, fear and pandemonium, the armed men get back on their pickup and drive off.

Had they come out to get us? Were they sent on other business? We will never know.

Lesson: Always be prepared. Have a security plan and an emergency escape plan. You never know when the armed men will be back.

Challenging Christian Supremacist Homophobia: A Presentation at the Human Rights Baraza February 19, 2010. By Val Kalende

February 19, 2010

Fellow Human rights activists, distinguished guests and all Ugandans. I am proud to stand before you as a lesbian today. With hearts full of love and the abiding faith in justice, we have come to this place to speak to Uganda. We have come to speak the truth of our lives and silence the liars. We have come to challenge the cowardly anti gay campaigners and state officials to end their paralysis and exercise moral leadership. We have come to defend our honor and win our equality. But most of all we have come in peace and with courage to say, "Uganda, this day marks the beginning of the end from exile of the gay and lesbian people. We are banished no more. We will wander the wilderness of despair no more. We will be afraid no more. For on this day, with love in our hearts, we have come out, and we have come out across Uganda to build a bridge of understanding, a bridge of progress, a bridge as solid as steel, a bridge to a land where no one suffers prejudice because of their sexual orientation, their race, their gender, their religion, or their human difference.

I have been asked by the event organizers to speak in 15 minutes about the far right, the far right which threatens the construction of that bridge. The extreme right which has targeted every one of you and me for extinction. The supremacist right which seeks to redefine the very meaning of human rights. Language itself fails in this task, my friends, for to call our opponents "The Right," states a profound untruth. They are wrong - they are wrong morally, they are wrong spiritually, and they are wrong politically.

The Christian supremacists are wrong spiritually when they demonize us. They are wrong when they reduce the complexity and beauty of our spirit into a freak show. They are wrong spiritually, because, if we are the untouchables of Uganda -- if we are the untouchables -- then we are, as Mahatma Gandhi said, children of God. And as God's children we know that the God of our understanding, the God of goodness and love and righteousness, is right here with us today.

The supremacists who lead the anti-gay crusade are wrong morally. They are wrong because justice is moral, and prejudice is evil; because truth is moral and the lie of the closet is the real sin; because the claim of morality is a subtle sort of deception, a trick which hides the real aim which is much more secular. Christian supremacist leaders like Martin Ssempa, Stephen Langa, Solomon Male, Scot Lively, Caleb Brundidge and David Bahati don’t care about morality, they care about power. They care about social control. And their goal, my friends, is the reconstruction of Ugandan Democracy into Ugandan Theocracy.

We who are gathered here today must prove the religious bigots wrong politically and we can do it. That is our challenge. You know they have made us into the enemies of Uganda’s youth and children. And they say they have declared cultural war against us. It's war all right. It's a war about values. On one side are the values that everyone here stands for. Do you know what those values are? Traditional Ugandan values of democracy and freedom. Traditional Uganda values of both the heterosexual family and the homosexual family.
We believe in human rights for ALL, in many voices co-existing in peace, and people of all faiths living together in harmony under a common civil framework known as the Constitution of Uganda. Our opponents believe in hatred. We won the anti-gay struggle in South Africa. We won the big fight in Dehli, thanks to the hard work of all the people of India. And we are going to win our freedom in Uganda eventually.

To defeat the puritans politically, my friends, is our challenge when we leave this room. How can we do it? We've got to march from here into action at home. I challenge every one of you, straight or gay, who can hear my voice, to join the Ugandan LGBTI movement. I challenge you to join us to fight the spreaders of the gospel of hatred. We have got to match the power of the Christian supremacists, member for member, vote for vote, and shilling for shilling. I challenge each of you, don’t just send a word of encouragement, but get involved in your movement. Get involved! Volunteer! Volunteer! Every local human rights organization in this country needs you. Every clinic, every gay person, every youth program needs you, needs your time and your love.

And I also challenge our straight liberal allies. I challenge and invite you to open your eyes and embrace us without fear. The gay rights movement is not a party. It is not lifestyle. It is not a hair style. It is not a fad or a fringe or a sickness. It is not about sin or salvation. The gay rights movement is an integral part of the Ugandan promise of freedom and fundamental change for all citizens.

When all of us who believe in freedom and diversity see this gathering, we see beauty and power. When our enemies see this gathering, they see the new dawn of a revolution. We call for the end of the world as we know it. We call for the end of homophobia and bigotry as we know it. For the end of violence and discrimination as we know it. For the end of religious fanatism as we know it. We stand for freedom as we are yet to know it, and we will not be denied.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Free to Roam

In April 2003, we founded Freedom and Roam Uganda. Three fully fledged lesbains thought of starting up an organization to liberiate LBT women. The name Freedom and Roam came from the desire for all Ugandan LBT women to be free from discrimination and oppression based on sexual orientation. And, to be able to roam. If you are free, you can roam, but without freedom you cannot roam.

We are starting this blog to tell people about the LBTi community in Uganda. Please check back often as we update this page and leave a comment to say hello.