On Easter Sunday, antigay activists and religious leaders in Uganda held a rally to launch the "Say No to Homosexuality" campaign, led by Pastor Solomon Male and the Reverend Thomas Musoke. The rally was held in Namataba Village, just outside the gravesite of slain gay activist David Kato. Kato's mother was reportedly inside the home and saw the entire rally.
Pastor Male was joined onstage by two people who claim they are "ex-gay," both of whom said they were "recruited" into homosexuality by bribes and nonconsensual sodomy, according to a report provided to The Advocate by LGBTI activists Pepe Onziema and Jeffrey Ogwaro. The religious leaders also claimed that gay people force young men into homosexuality at gunpoint, when they aren't bribing them with gifts and promises of an education.
When Pastor Male took the stage, he hurled a rapid-fire stream of homophobic rhetoric at the crowd. Male claimed that Paul Kagaba, one of the "ex-gays" in attendance, had been recruited into homosexuality by Kato, delving into a graphic description alleging that the activist sodomized Kagaba until his rectum tore and infected Kagaba with HIV.
Male went on to explain the deliberate choice to launch his hate-filled campaign on the doorstep of Kato, who was bludgeoned to death inside his Kampala home in 2011. Police ruled the murder the result of a robbery, ignoring calls to investigate Kato's death as a hate crime.
Pastor Male said he launched the antigay campaign in Kato's hometown "to make sure Namataba Village was not turned into a pilgrimage site for homosexuality because Kato was buried there," according to Ogwaro, of Uganda's Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, who covertly attended the rally and shared a report with The Advocate.
Pastor Male promised the crowd that the "Say No to Homosexuality" campaign was stepping off in Namataba Village but would continue throughout the country.
During a question-and-answer session, one rally attendee asked a police officer if police dogs could be trained to sniff out homosexuality. Responding in Lugandan, the officer answered, "Yes, it is possible." The local police department attended and, according to reports, endorsed the rally.
The organizers also praised Uganda's Red Pepper tabloid for its ongoing coverage dedicated to outing LGBTI people in Uganda, often along with personal information, including home addresses and phone numbers. Shortly before activist Kato was found murdered, another tabloid called Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. magazine of the same name) published Kato's picture on its front page announcing "Uganda's Top 100 Homos," under a banner reading "Hang Them."
The so-called Kill the Gays Bill continues to linger in the Ugandan parliament and has widespread support among members. But according to an article from Uganda's Observer, MPs are hoping for a private, closed vote on the bill, to shield themselves from being "blacklisted," as the bill's author, MP David Bahati, claims he has been following international outrage at the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
But while antigay sentiment is strong in Uganda, LGBTI activists there contend it is not ubiquitous.
"Homophobia is the real import to Uganda," said Onziema, a transgender man and program director for LGBT advocacy group Sexual Minorities Uganda. Onziema is an outspoken activist in a nation where simply acknowledging one's homosexuality could bring a death sentence, and in 2012 he received the Clinton Global Initiative Award for his work.
To help change the hearts and minds of his fellow Ugandans, Onziema has teamed up with American videographer Tim McCarthy to produce a documentary about Ugandan LGBT life to be shown primarily to other Ugandans. The project uses the Lugandan equivalent of the English word "queer" to raise the Voices of the Abasiyazzi, as the film is titled. The pair have launched a Kickstarter campaign to make the documentary a reality and are hoping to raise nearly $75,000. Find more information — and watch a trailer for the documentary — right here.
See more images from the rally on the next page.
Pastor Solomon Male (left) and "ex-gay"Paul Kagaba
The rally took place in the middle of the village, just beside slain gay activist David Kato's gravesite and his mother's home.