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”I think it’s important for people to come out and say that religious-based persecution is not acceptable,” Snead said.
Kushaba Moses Mworeko, a native of Uganda who sought asylum in the U.S. and now lives in D.C., said the fight was personal to him. Mworeko noted that the protest took place on World AIDS Day, a date when the LGBT community has historically been called to take action to better the lives of members of the LGBT community.
”Many people have died, and this is the day we should be remembering them,” Mworeko said, referring to Worlds AIDS Day. ”But it’s very unfortunate that those gay people, especially who are HIV-positive and are living in Uganda, are going to die not because of the disease they have, but because of who they are, because of their sexual orientation.”
Mworeko said the Ugandan government is trying to use LGBT people as a scapegoat and that many of the politicians in Uganda are heavily influenced by religion and traditional African values emphasizing the importance of family, which are used as excuses for pushing the anti-homosexuality bill. Mworeko also noted that several networks of evangelical Christians from the United States have influenced key Ugandan politicians in pushing for the bill.
As to what can be done to stop the bill from taking effect, Mworeko said that threats of cuts to foreign aid, on which Uganda is heavily reliant, have derailed similar bills in the past. He added that any action taken on the part of American citizens, from signing petitions to lobbying political leaders, as well as heightened awareness and scrutiny of the Ugandan government, can help stop anti-gay measures and gives people on the ground in Uganda a measure of hope.
Jiva Manske, a Takoma Park, Md., resident and straight ally, said the fight against the anti-homosexuality bill and other anti-gay measures remains a grassroots effort and highlights the need for strong LGBT allies who can fight on behalf of the community’s safety. He also said that the struggle for full equality is not limited Uganda, that the U.S. government has more to do to protect the rights of LGBT Americans.
”What’s happening in Uganda is important for people to know about, so this is a powerful way to send a message,” Maske said. ”It’s horrific. That anyone would advocate for such a hateful thing, it is really terrible. It makes it all the more important that there are people standing up on the side of justice.”
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