Uganda Pride Sends Message: Some Ugandans Are Gay, Get Over It

Six months after President Yoweri Museveni signs a draconian antigay bill into law, and less than two weeks after that law was overturned, (invitation-only) Uganda Pride goes off without a hitch.

BY Thom Senzee

August 11 2014 7:00 AM ET

Above: Ugandan men hold a rainbow flag reading 'Join hands to end LGBTI (Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Intersex - called Kuchu in Uganda) genocide' as they celebrate on August 9, 2014 during the annual gay pride in Entebbe, Uganda. 

 

In a development that seemed almost unthinkable prior to the overturning of Uganda's draconian "Jail-the-Gays" law less than two weeks ago, The Guardian newspaper reports that an invitation-only LGBT Pride celebration went off without protests or violence along the shore of Lake Victoria.

"This event is to bring us together," The Guardian quoted Uganda Pride organizer Sandra Ntebi as saying. The Guardian reported that about 100 were attended the event.

Photos emerged across the Internet, depicting jubilant festival-goers not only celebrating their pride in being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and of non-conforming gender identities, but also the fact that aren't persecuted by officially sanctioned harassment and abuse. 

Many festival-goers wore Pride-themed clothing and face paint. Others waved flags and banners that combined the colors of the Ugandan national flag with the famous rainbow colors of the LGBT Pride movement.

"Everyone was in hiding before because of the anti-homosexuality law," Ntebi said. "It is a happy day for all of us, getting together."

However, as The Guardian reported, not only does homosexuality remain illegal in Uganda, some members of parliament have already begun work to pass a new Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The one lawmakers passed in December temporarily became law in February when President Yoweri Museveni signed the legislation, which then became known as the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

Though it only survived six months, Uganda's AHA reeked havoc on the lives of LGBT people throughout Uganda. At least hundreds became refugees in surrounding African nations, such as Kenya and even Rwanda, neither of which can be called friendly to LGBTs.

The law contained provisions for life sentences in prison for "aggravated homosexuality" and up to seven years imprisonment for family members who didn't turn in LGBT relatives and landlords who did not evict gay tenants.

Homophobia thrives in religiously conservative and increasingly evangelical Uganda in terms of its religious community's approach to Christianity. That is thanks in large part to American missionaries and far-right radical activists, such as the notorious Scott Lively.

Lively recently claimed that he had nothing to do with promoting homobphobia in Uganda. He says the overturning of the AHA on August 1 will help his defense in a lawsuit that charges his infamous lecture in Kampala several years ago, in which he compared gays to pedophiles and homsexuality with "scat" and bestiality, got the ball rolling toward the enactment of the harsh law.

Rampant homophobia notwithstanding, one Uganda Pride attendee's temporary face tattoo may have said it best. It read, "Some Ugandans are gay, get over it!"

See more photos below:

Above: People wearing masks pose as they sit in a vehicle during the first Ugandan Gay Pride rally since the overturning of an antigay law.

Rainbow flags and an umbrella signal the event.

Some wear masks for protection while holding signs at the Pride rally.

Garlands flutter in the breeze at this invitation-only Pride event.

Tags: Uganda, World, Pride

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