& The Anti-Homo Bill
Thanks to the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance blog maintained by Rick Rosendall, I was made aware of two upcoming actions later this week regarding general human rights issues in Uganda. The GLAA blog shared info from a news release put out by the Ugandans in Diaspora org, touting a march in DC on January 22 that starts at the Uganda embassy, and a rally on January 23 at the country's UN mission in NYC.
I was concerned gay Ugandans and the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that mandates the death penalty for homosexuals were omitted from the straight diaspora Ugandans, and contacted via email. The first response from them was the email below, then a follow up phone call with two of the straight Ugandans:
Thank you for your response and concern. Contrary to the contents of your email, you are invited to our events in DC and NYC. Actually, we invited all the human rights advocates/groups whose contacts we had, especially from their past involvement in Ugandan issues at home and abroad.
The DC/NYC events will be the 4th and 5th in our current global wave of anti NRM and Museveni demonstrations since September 2009, already scheduled to be held at regular intervals till 2011.
We send out GENERAL invitations to groups and individuals that we know/deem to be concerned about the plight of democracy and human rights in Uganda, or those that are located in the cities where our event may take place since the first pro-Independence/anti-colonialism demonstrations were held by our very own grandfathers in 1953 in London, UK.
By practice, we don't highlight 'A SPECIFIC ISSUE or VICTIMIZED GROUP at any given demonstration, since we try to be as inclusive (agenda and participants) possible. That's why we do not even design or hand out signs to be held but instead encourage participants to bring their own signs/placards to highlight their own issue(s), if they so choose. [...]
Michael, we welcome you and all those concerned about human rights and democracy in Uganda to participate in our demonstrations this month and in the future. [...]
Deogratias Kawunde Miti
In our phone chat, I explained to Kawunde and his colleague Fred Kambugu that it was not helpful in reaching out to American gays to omit any reference to the plight of gays in Uganda and the need to address the anti-gay death penalty bill. They replied that they want to reach out to all people concerned with human rights in their country, to which I said, giving specifics would help reach different constituencies.
My suggestion was that they draft a new announcement, stressing the need to protect the human rights of all Ugandans, to mention gay citizens, women, people with HIV/AIDS, and that the terrible pending legislation be addressed at the protests. Kawunde and Fred they would put out an update about the agenda for the actions, and that gays would be mentioned.
We spoke briefly about the February 4 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, and the expected participation of David Bahati, the author of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which was first reported at the BoxTurtleBulletin site last week. Kawunde and Fred expressed interest in any peaceful protest planned at the breakfast, and I promised them that if I heard of any individual or advocacy org getting some action organized, I would share the info with them. Has anyone in DC stepped forward to start the organizing process? Lemme know, if they have.
I look forward to more communication with straight Ugandan human rights advocates, helping to make sure their demonstrations this week include gay concerns, and that there is a collaborative effort in Washington that pulls together a truly fabulous action at the National Prayer Breakfast, focused on gay human rights in Uganda.