A chilling "celebration," a parade was held in Uganda's capital earlier this week to honor the recently signed "Anti-Homosexuality Act," also known as the "Jail the Gays" law. The draconian law puts a life sentence on being gay and has sparked violence, suicide attempts, rumors of torture, international outrage, and proposals elsewhere of similar bills. Under Uganda's law, it is also illegal to know someone who is gay and not report that person to the police.
BuzzFeed reports that the five-hour event featured performance acts and President Yoweri Museveni as the guest of honor. Known as the "National Thanksgiving Service Celebrating the Passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill," the ceremony was held at the site where Uganda gained independence just over fifty years ago. Parade goers cheered the notion that the new law serves as a break from Western ties and influence—though the anti-LGBT climate has been deliberately cultivated for years by Western anti-LGBT leaders.
Since the bill was signed into law, Uganda has experienced financial repercussions from both private and public sources, including Western countries and the World Bank, though numerous Ugandan LGBT advocates have warned that this may do more harm than good to the cause. At present, around $118 million in Western aid have been stopped or re-directed, including money initially directed towards HIV/AIDS relief. In early March, five leading grassroots advocates released a public, 20-point document on the most helpful ways that people from outside of Uganda can effect LGBT equality. Advocacy groups within the nation have been challenging the law as well.
"There is nothing good in this imported culture," Museveni told the crowd of thousands. "You don't have to be ruined by foreign things." He added, "I am now mobilized to fight this war."