KAMPALA, Uganda — Isolation, insults, threats and violence: this is what Uganda’s mostly closeted gay community has dealt with for years.
But now that Ugandan politicians are threatening to pass a new anti-homosexuality bill that would sentence some homosexuals (serial offenders, those who are H.I.V. positive and others) to life in prison or even death, many gay men and lesbians said they felt hunted. Photo
“We walk on the streets knowing that at any moment someone could be knowing you and there could be mob justice,” said Stosh Mugisha, a woman who is going through a transition to become a man. “You feel embarrassed by someone touching you. People provoke us. But I just play it cool. Keep a low profile. It is terrible.” Photo
Val Kalende, another of the few out — and outspoken — gay rights activists in this country of 32 million people, said being gay in Uganda is “quite problematic.”
“If you’re in school and your parents find out, they’ll stop paying school fees,” she said. “Your family will avoid you. They used to ask me, ‘Don’t you want to have children? Don’t you want a man?’ ”
Anti-gay sentiments are one thing, and hardly unique to Uganda. But what seems different here is the level of official, government-sponsored anti-gay hate speech.
“I detest gays in my heart,” said Kassiano E. Wadri, a member of Parliament and the chief whip of the opposition. “When I see a gay, I think that person needs psychotherapy. You need to break him.”...
“It’s not homosexuality that it is imported,” the European man said. “It’s homophobia.”