Metro Weekly

Uganda’s Pride parade will go ahead despite dangers

Amid secrecy, threats of violence and in the wake of a failed anti-gay bill, Pride will go ahead

Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill protest, Credit - Wikimedia

Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill protest, Credit – Wikimedia

It’s somewhat incredible that Uganda even has an annual Pride parade. One of the most hostile countries on earth with regards its LGBT citizens, Uganda hit headlines last year after its controversial Anti-Homosexuality Act was passed by the country’s parliament. Initially dubbed the “Kill the Gays bill,” it mandated the death penalty for homosexuality — though that was later pared back to life imprisonment before it was passed.

Mercifully, it was struck down by Uganda’s Constitutional Court due to a technicality. As such, gay Ugandans have something worth celebrating this year — even though the penalty for homosexuality remains 14 years in prison.

Richard Lusimbo, head of this year’s committee, spoke with CNN about the dangers still faced by Uganda’s LGBT community.

“There are many people who are still languishing in refugee camps in Kenya,” he said. “The lucky ones have gotten to western countries but there are people who remain and the thing that keeps them going is family.”

It’s why “We are Family” was chosen as this year’s parade theme — to reaffirm to Ugandan gays, wherever they are, that they have a support network. “We are encouraging LGBTI people to come out with their families,” Lusimbo said, “to show that gay people also have children or supporters within their families.”

However, this year’s parade is still under threat of violence from Uganda’s conservative population. The location of the parade is being kept a secret, lest they incur protests or risk violence against attendees.

“[The possibility of violence] is a concern we don’t take lightly,“ Lusimbo said. “Within the penal code, the act of homosexuality is still criminalised. Socially, we can’t say that anyone won’t be throwing stones or homophobic insults.”

Uganda’s Pride parade will take place August 8, including documentary screenings, fashion events, and health awareness presentations, as well as support opportunities for Uganda’s LGBT opportunity.

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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