- Where is homosexuality illegal in Africa and how is this situation improving or declining?
“38 out of 54 countries in Africa criminalize same-sex relationships. The majority of African countries consider homosexuality as a curse and a deviance from the normal African traditions. Most African societies consider this as unAfrican and a western import.
This is also because most African countries are so religious and thus the Bible still regards homosexuality ungodly. Most African leaders are so religious and have used this religious background to endorse laws that criminalize same sex relations.
This antigay campaign in Africa has been further fueled by different anti-gay religious extremists who argue that LGBTI people are a force against the traditional African family values.”
- Was homosexuality accepted in traditional African culture and why has this changed in two generations?
“Various sources have brought it out clearly that cases of homosexuality existed in African pre-colonial societies. This can be attributed to the fact that different societies in Africa have different names referring to the word “homosexuality” such as ebisiyaga in Luganda(Uganda)meaning the act of homosexuality and abasiyazi meaning homosexuals.
However, much homosexuality was not openly accepted in these ancient African pre-colonial societies, other society member co-existed freely with LGBTI in their societies without stigmatizing them.”
- What brought the anti-gay laws in Uganda?
“The era of colonialism ushered in anti-gay laws in Uganda and across the entire African continent. Before colonialist came to Uganda and around Africa, these anti-gay laws criminalizing same-sex relationships. A good example is the Ugandan penal code section 145 which punishes carnal knowledge against the order of nature with life imprisonment. This same law is still in effect in Uganda today but it was left behind by the British colonialists.
More so the religious antigay fundamentalists have helped to stir this anti-gay campaign in support of laws that criminalize same-sex relationship and case in point was when most of these religious leaders backed the infamous anti-gay bill that was passed by the parliament of Uganda in December 2013 and signed into law by president Yoweri Museveni in February 2014 and annulled by the constitutional court in August of the same year on procedural grounds.”
- Ugandan South Asian communities are also a minority group in Britain- please would you speak about their views on homosexuality/experiences of homophobia?
“I think this needs more research about the South Asian community in Uganda and their views about this topic. Having criminal laws for homosexuality in Uganda many foreigners fear to come out or be open so its difficult for us to know them.”
- What does your Organisation do and how can we help?
“Kuchu Times media group is a media platform created to provide a voice for Uganda’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community.
Kuchu is the slang adopted by the Ugandan LGBTI community to secretly identify themselves and easily talk about issues affecting them in public without giving out much information as LGBTI issues are still highly stigmatized. We hope to build an active media stream for radio, television and message forums for the exchange of news and ideas and drawing on Africa’s hugely diverse cultures. The Kuchu Times platform has attracted more than 2million viewers in 2years and more than 3million downloads for the first and second edition of Bombastic magazine.
At the height of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda, many false stories were written about LGBT identifying persons. LGBT community was portrayed in the worst light possible, continuously feeding the public with propaganda that we are out to recruit children and after financial gain. People were “outed” in tabloids, some lost their jobs, evicted and others disowned by their families. It was during this turmoil that we realized the need to fill the media gap; we had to tell our own stories since nobody was willing to tell them for us.
Kuchu times has created a great opportunity where members within the LGBTI community have shared experiences and messages, and has also made effort in bridging the gap between mainstream stakeholders such the police and health service providers with the wider LGBTI community.
A continued awareness effort is what we seek to achieve in the hope that in time there is a reduction in physical security threats to the community and all other injustices that are targeted to the minority group.
What you can do to help us push forward with our work is to keep supporting us with more resources such as funds to sustain our operations of informing the world about the situation of LGBTI issues in Uganda and the entire African continent.”
- How safe is it to be LGBTI in Uganda and is it safe to do this interview?
“It is not safe to be LGBTI in Uganda since the country considers homosexuality illegal. An LGBTI person in Uganda lives in one of the most unpredictable environments since he/she cannot know what will happen next and what that person next to him/her plans to do. This all roots from our culture, religion and harsh laws against homosexuality.”
- Recently the UN appointed a Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity representative, what do you think the UN can do to help and what was the recent move by the African nations?
“Its great for the UN to appoint a representative but African countries voted against the mandate. It will be very difficult for him to be invited or welcomed in countries that see homosexuality as a western culture. But we hope that we can find ways of how he can be great help to our nations. It also gives weight to our advocacy work to have someone at the international body to specifically focus on issue so SOGIE. In the past our isses have been embedded in broad human rights mechanisms that in the end they end up losing clot. We are not asking for special or extra ordinary rights but special focus on issues affecting SOGIE since many countries in the world are discriminating and criminalisng their citizens for simply who they love.”
- How can our readers help to reduce hate crimes from happening around the world?
“Your readers just need to research a lot on matters concerning sexuality and gender identity. Most of these hate crimes are as a result of ignorance entrenched from rigid cultural and religious beliefs. They need to support activists and groups fighting hatecrimes and homophobia. These can be done through technical support, moral and financial support. They also need to speak out and raise awareness of what is happening in our parts of the world, people can only help if they are informed. They need to get in contact with activists on ground in these countries and work together.”
- Same-sex marriage has recently gained a lot of ground in England and Wales and Scotland (notably not recognized in Northern Ireland), Ireland and the USA. How can the leaders of these countries help the countries with anti-gay laws?
“They should keep lobbying for inclusive polices of all citizens around the world.They can lobby their capitals who then can engage with our capitals. They should also desist from demanding, they need to be respectful and in consideration that change takes time just like it has taken over half a century for their countries to register these achievements.”
- What would be your message to LGBTI people in Asia who find themselves in similar situations, where they are in danger or are not accepted by their culture or religion?
“They should know that we are always with them in spirit and they should never give up in this struggle for equality. Solidarity is what keeps our movement stronger across the globe. They need to join the movement for equality and stand up for their rights. Leaving a few to fight this battle will only ware out the few activists which will lead to the death of the movement. They need to join the struggle and speak out. They should build networks around the world for exchange of ideas and resources.”