LGBT Ugandans Still Concerned about "Kill the Gays" Bill and Worsening Conditions

Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill did not pass before the end of the year, but the LGBT community there is still feeling the impact of anti-LGBT sentiment in the country. Kaweesi Joseph, the founder of the Youth on Rock Foundation was arrested on Sunday on charges of “acts of homosexuality” and “recruitment.” He appears to still be in police custody several days later.

Although the “Kill the Gays” bill has not been passed, Uganda has had laws banning intimacy between gay men and lesbians for over 100 years. Those laws were written into sections 145, 146, and 148 of the penal code in 1950, though there is no mention of recruitment in any of the sections.

Additionally, the offices of SMUG (Sexual Minorities Uganda) were broken into last week and several computers were stolen. It is unclear what was on the computers, but it is possible that they contained lists of the organization’s membership. If membership lists are on the stolen computer, it is imperative that the information not be made public. Just shy of two years ago, SMUG founder David Kato was murdered after winning a lawsuit against a Ugandan magazine that had published the names and photographs of 100 LGBT Ugandans alongside an incendiary article urging violence.

SMUG leaders have filed a lawsuit against Scott Lively through the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), arguing that Lively’s 2009 anti-LGBT conference in Kampala, Uganda sparked worsening conditions for LGBT Ugandans and led to the introduction of the “Kill the Gays” bill. The CCR will be in court on January 7 in oral arguments against Lively’s motion to have the case dismissed. Frank Mugisha and other SMUG leaders will be in attendance. SMUG and the CCR filed the lawsuit under the Alien Tort Statute, which allows foreign nationals to sue U.S. citizens for violations of U.S. or international law committed overseas. We urge anyone who is able to attend the hearing in Springfield, Massachusetts, to do so. You can also show your support for SMUG’s case on Twitter by using the hashtag #StopTheHate. Write your own tweets in support of SMUG or use the ones written by the CCR:

  • In #solidarity with @SMUG2004 & #Uganda's #LGBT community: Call on #ScottLively and other US evangelical Christian leaders to #StoptheHate!
  • Help @SMUG2004 & @theCCR stop #LGBT persecution at one of its most insidious roots: here at home w/ the likes of #ScottLively! #StoptheHate
  • Speak out against #ScottLively and other US evangelicals exporting their #LGBT hate agendas to #Uganda and other countries! #StoptheHate
  • #Uganda #KilltheGays dead for the moment but violence against #LGBT Ugandans is ongoing. Help @frankmugisha @theCCR #StoptheHate!

Follow @theCCR on January 7 to keep up to date on court proceedings.

Uganda’s parliament will resume in February and may take up the “Kill the Gays” bill again; a number of religious leaders in Uganda called for the bill’s passage in their New Year’s addresses.