By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com March 05 2014 5:25 PM ET
A Ugandan lesbian says she was served with an eviction notice on Monday, and while the landlord acknowledged that she had been a "wonderful" tenant, he cited the country's recently enacted antigay law as the reason she could no longer rent her home.
"You have been a wonderful woman as well as a tenant who hasn’t given me any trouble over rent whatsoever," wrote the landlord in Lugandan, according to a translation by Ugandan LGBT blog SebaSpace. "But due to what is going on in the country [regarding the anti-gay law] and your way you and your friends behave, I am sorry but I think you are a depraved person who I can no longer tolerate in my house. I also cannot fight against the government. For that reason, I want you out of my house by March 30, 2014, peacefully."
SebaSpace notes that the letter cannot be independently verified, but it seems to fall in line with the country's Anti-Homosexuality Law, which not only imposes lifetime jail sentences for certain instances of homosexuality, but prescribes prison terms up to seven years for anyone found guilty of "aiding or abetting homosexuality" or organizations that support LGBT people. In defining what qualifies as "aiding or abetting homosexuality," the law notes that anyone who "offers premises and… fixed or moveable assets for purposes of homosexuality" can be jailed for five to seven years. This may have been the provision which concerned the landlord, though LGBT Ugandans report being attacked — and at least one person has been killed — since President Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law last month.
As written and passed by Uganda's parliament on December 20, the sweeping law calls for lifetime imprisonment for those convicted of "aggravated homosexuality," defined as repeated acts of same-sex sex between consenting adults, or any same-sex sexual relations where one participant is HIV-positive, mentally disabled, a minor, or under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
LGBT activists in Uganda have published guidelines for international allies wanting to help support the community — which activists in New York City took to heart. On Wednesday afternoon, LGBT activists with Queer Nation and Act Up protested the antigay legislation passed in Uganda and a similar draconian law in Nigeria by picketing the Ugandan and Nigerian embassies in New York City. The recommendations from Ugandan activists include encouraging notable celebrities, politicians, and corporate leaders to speak out against the law and the numerous other human rights violations in Uganda, organizing worldwide demonstrations, and lobbying local governments to revise their policies for emergency asylum for those Ugandans who want to flee.
Those Ugandan activists have cautioned international allies against making sweeping aid cuts but did applaud the Dutch tactic of redirecting that aid from Uganda's Justice Sector to pro-LGBT nonprofits. Together with the Norwegian and Danish governments, the Scandanavian countries announced a cumulative $26 million in aid would be diverted from Uganda's Justice Sector in response to the antigay law last month. Just days later, the World Bank announced an "indefinite delay" on a $90 million health care loan scheduled to be approved last month.