On August 4th, Ugandans hosted their first LGBT Pride Parade. The movement was sparked partially because the country’s President, Yoweri Museveni, attributed his success in cutting his country’s HIV infection rates from 28% to less than 10% to the absence of ‘gays’ in 2002. Ugandan LGBT activist, Val Kalende, recently blogged about her experience at the parade. “When I learned that my colleagues were organizing Pride, I was more concerned about what Pride means to us as Africans than replicating what we have witnessed at Pride parades elsewhere. When I saw my colleagues marching on a muddy road, some walking barefoot with the national flag held high, not only was I reminded of our Africanness, but I felt close to home,” she said.
Kalende described the social stigmas of homosexuality in Uganda stating police officers often label any gathering of LGBT people to be a “gay wedding.” She continued to say as America evolves and changes its legislation in favor of the LGBT community, the homophobic values of religious fundamentalists are being ‘exported’ to Africa. “We have learned enough from Christian missionaries, such as Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, to know that when Western conservative narratives are exported to Africa, African politicians see an opportunity to further criminalize same-sex persons.”
As the country works eagerly to pass an Anti-Homosexuality Bill, state security officials are already treating members of the LGBT community unfairly. Three LGBT gatherings were unlawfully raided in the past six months, according to Kalende. “While the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is still being debated for passage, it should be made clear that it is still proposed legislation. Enforcing a not-yet-passed bill as law is not only unlawful; it is a gross violation of human rights,” she said.