By Cake Staff:
It has been two years since the Constitutional Court of Uganda reversed the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, but for the LGBTQ community things have gone from bad to worse.
On Aug. 4, 2016, at around 11.30 PM, in the national capital of Kampala, the police raided an event that had been privately organized by the city’s queer community, at Club Venom, and was part of their pre-Pride celebrations. According to a Facebook post by Jason Jeremias, who works with the global performing arts collective Price of Silence, two people were killed, and several others taken into custody. One of the club-goers fell from an upper floor window in an attempt to escape:
— Pepe Julian Onziema (@Opimva) August 6, 2016
And, to make matters worse, Minister of Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo responded by saying he will do everything in his power to suppress queer people in Uganda.
LGBTQ leader and Uganda Pride organizer Kasha Nabagesera tweeted out the broadcast of the same:
— BombasticKasha (@KashaJacqueline) August 8, 2016
Living in Uganda as an LGBTQ person is not easy. Section 145 of the Ugandan Penal Code criminalizes any sexual activity “against the order of nature” – equivalents of this exist in India, Singapore and other erstwhile British colonies. This means that the general public is rather against the LGBTQ population, to the point of carrying out several human rights violations.
A report by Sexual Minorities Uganda “has documented 264 verified cases of persecutions of LGBT individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity” – cases ranging from state torture, and other forms of social exclusion. Eviction and loss of property are also widespread worries. In the same report, Bukomansimbi resident Ivan speaks of his landlady’s behaviour following the Anti-Homosexuality Act in 2014: “She chased me away from her house because I am gay and I begged her to give me at least one week because I had nowhere to go so fast […] And the people around where I used to stay all know my sexuality and they all don’t want me there. I now sleep in a different place every two days.”
Still, the community will not be discouraged. Price of Silence has started the #PrideUgandaStillStands campaign online, and people have taken to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to show their support:
— KuchuTimes (Q-Times) (@KuchuTimes) August 6, 2016
The campaign has also been backed by big organizations like Human Rights Watch, and All Out. And, along with a statement condemning the attacks, the African Human Rights Coalition is also attempting to raise funds for LGBTQ victims.
Jeremias, who is also one of the coordinators of #PrideUgandaStillStands, told us via hurried Facebook correspondences, about the hashtag:
“We are calling on the world, on people across genders, to come together and recognize the human rights crisis of the brutality targeted at the Ugandan LGBTQ community, specifically trans-identifying people.”
The attack at Club Venom in Uganda comes a mere two months after the horrific Orlando Shooting, and is only one instance in an ocean of violence directed at queer people.
Jeremias has asked that the campaign not remain a passing moment but move toward redefining human cooperation for equality. “We are reminded of the role societies outside of Uganda play in the injustice faced there, when countries support military financing the regime in power, by giving them the arms to conduct raids such as that which happened in Club Venom, or are involved in exploitative economic policies that create the infrastructure for injustice. We want to remind the media and show leaders all around the world that we are becoming more and more unified against injustice no matter where it happens or when it happens.“
Update: An earlier eye-witness report, which had said two people were killed, was revised. Both survived, but one was brutally beaten and the other left with a broken spine.