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Accomplished Ugandan LGBTQ Activist Renounces Lesbianism

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After over a decade of advocating for LGBTQ rights, Val Kelende says she's no longer a lesbian.

On Sunday, prominent Ugandan LGBTQ activist Val Kalende issued a public statement that she is no longer a lesbian on a local Christian channel, Salt TV.

Kalende, 36, came out as a lesbian in 2002 and has fought for equality for 10 years in her home country where homosexuality is punishable with a life sentence. As a well-known journalist, her voice has reached the international stage through articles for The Huffington Post.

"As Ugandan LGBT activists, we remain steadfast in our resolve not to relinquish the fight," Kalende wrote in 2016.

Now she has appeared on a live broadcast of a public Sunday service where she declared she was no longer gay and was going to be married to a man, according to the Ugandan outlet Edge. Her speech also described the struggles she endured when she identified as a member of the LGBTQ community.

"I'm born of Christian parents. All of them cut their ties with me for being gay. I became an orphan," Kalende said. "Right now, I have no peace of mind. I sometimes break down and cry wondering why am like this. I'm now back home and have been saved."

"The news is shocking to me and many of my colleagues. I am very much worried about her," Kalende's friend Frank Mugisha told PinkNews. As a fellow activist, he serves as the executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda.

Before the announcement, Kalende had been sounding off anti-LGBTQ sentiments on social media. She recently posted an image featuring stick figures of a man and woman that read, "God's design for marriage." Another post featured a rainbow with the text "God made the rainbow as a promise not to flood the whole earth. He didn't make it as a gay rights symbol."

In 2009, Kalende published an article explaining what her life was like as a lesbian and religious Christian living in increasingly homophobic Uganda in the Daily Monitor, a leading Ugandan newspaper, which included a photo of her. At the time, she told Newsweek her pastor advised her to claim she'd suddenly, miraculously become heterosexual.

Eventually, Kalende was granted asylum in Canada in 2015.

"I became rebellious. We always wondered why the world forced us to become girls who do not love men. We were even arrested from a conference and arrested. We were detained at Central Police Station and even taken to court," she said during Sunday's service.

Edwin Sesange, who directs the London-based African Equality Foundation told PinkNews that Kalende's renouncing her sexuality does not erase her achievements in the fight for LGBTQ equality in Uganda.

"You are a hero and your work for the movement can not be denied or scrapped. You will be missed and, above all, you are loved," he wrote in a statement addressing Kalende.

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