Monday, September 25, 2006

Important news from our brothers and sisters across the pond:

Uganda Protest: Stop persecuting gays!

Ugandan High Commission in London picketed

Protest against outings and harassment of Ugandan LGBTs

London, 22 September 2006 - Thirty protesters picketed the Ugandan High Commission in London today (22 September 2006), in protest at the persecution gay and lesbian
Ugandans. They were from the National Union of Students LGBT campaign and from the queer rights direct action group OutRage!.

The protest was prompted by Uganda’s latest homophobic outrage: the outing of 58 alleged lesbians and gay men.

The protesters chanted: “Uganda! Stop persecuting queers! Human rights for all!”

They handed in a letter to the Ugandan High Commissioner, urging respect for the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Ugandans.

“Uganda is the new Zimbabwe. President Yoweri Museveni is the Robert Mugabe of Uganda – a homophobic tyrant who tramples on democracy and human rights,” said Peter Tatchell of OutRage!, who attended the protest.

“Uganda's anti-gay laws were imposed by the British colonialists who occupied the country, stole its wealth and abused its people. The time has come to ditch this oppressive, divisive, imperialist legislation. The Ugandan government should accept the diversity of humanity, including the existence of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

“One of the hallmarks of an enlightened, democratic society is live-and-let-live. Majorities should respect minorities, even if they don't always agree with them.

“Ugandans should be judged by the quality of their character, not by their sexual orientation,” said Mr Tatchell.

The main organiser of the protest, Claire Anderson of the NUS LGBT campaign, added:

“We call on individuals and groups, LGBT or otherwise, to protest against the intimidation, arrest and torture of LGBT people in Uganda. You can email a protest to:

"We handed a letter of protest to the Ugandan High Commisioner calling on his government to respect the provisions enshrined in the Ugandan constitution giving citizens rights to equality and freedom, and to respect the clauses of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) monitored by the UN, which allow the right to privacy, free from discrimination,” said Ms Anderson.

Uganda outlaws male homosexuality, under laws originally imposed by the British colonisers in the nineteenth century. Offenders can face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Lesbians and gays are subjected to vigilante violence by homophobic mobs, especially in rural areas where most of the population live. They get little or no police protection.

The government has banned same-sex marriage. In 2004 Radio Simba was fined for airing a debate on gay issues. State-funded HIV campaigns stress abstinence and ignore gay and bisexual men. The government refuses to promote safer sex and condoms to same-sex partners. The director of the UN AIDS agency was expelled from the country for having discussions with gay rights campaigners.

In July 2005, the home of lesbian activist, Victor Juliet Mukasa, was raided and searched illegally by local government officials. They confiscated gay rights documents, and arrested a friend who was staying in the house. Earlier the same year, the play Vagina Monologues was banned on the grounds that it promoted “unnatural sex acts, homosexuality and prostitution.”

The latest outrage is an outing campaign by the Ugandan tabloid newspaper, Red Pepper, which is reportedly owned by the half brother of the homophobic President, Yoweri Museveni. President Museveni has urged the police to hunt down and arrest gays and lesbians.

Red Pepper has outed 58 alleged lesbian and gay people in the last two months; and has urged readers to send more names, so they too can be outed. The paper also published a list of underground gay venues, exposing them to the risk of homophobic attack.

Recently, Red Pepper carried an article with the headline 'Jinja Cops Hunt For Gays,' in which they reported a police manhunt to arrest homosexuals in the city Jinga.

Letters of protest should be addressed to:

The Ugandan High Commissioner
Uganda House
58-59 Trafalgar Square
London WC2N 5DX.
Fax: 020 7839 8925.

Click here for photos of the protest (available for use without charge).

Further information:

Brett Lock, OutRage! 0770 843 5917

Claire Anderson, NUS LGBT Campaign 078 45 605 152

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