Gay rights activists in Uganda have spoken out about the prejudice LGBT people face in the country.
In a show of defiance and bravery, around 30 people gave a press conference, the first by LGBT activists, drawing attention to the state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia they face every day.
Some of the activists wore masks for fear of being identified, while others shocked journalists by outlining the brutality they had faced at the hands of police.
Ugandan law outlaws homosexuality as “against the order of nature.”
Trans people are also targeted by police and regularly subject to abuse and harassment.
“We were treated in a degrading and inhumane way,” said Victor Juliet Mukasa, leader of the Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a coalition of LGBT rights groups.
“Many of us have suffered similar injustice. We are here today to proclaim that these human rights violations are completely unacceptable. Leave us to live in peace,”
“Don’t lay a hand on us, we are the homosexual children of God. God created us this way and all we ask is let us live in peace,” she told journalists, according to All Africa.
Last year thirteen alleged lesbians were outed by the Ugandan tabloid newspaper Red Pepper.
They included two boutique owners, a basketball player and the daughters of a former MP and a prominent Sheikh.
Under the headline, “Kampala’s notorious lesbians unearthed,” the tabloid published a photo of two very beautiful unnamed women embracing at a party.
Ugandan campaigners were relieved that only 13 alleged lesbians were named.
They had feared that 20 to 40 women were going to be outed. Some activists suspect that Red Pepper may have scaled back its outing campaign following international protests after it outed 45 alleged gay and bisexual men in August.
There have been a series of government-backed attacks on the Ugandan lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the last few year, including an illegal police raid on the home of Victor Juliet Mukasa, in July 2005.
The same newspaper outed 45 supposedly gay and bisexual men, on 8 August 2006. The men outed included army officers, priests, university lecturers, entertainers, bankers, students and lawyers. It also published details of five venues popular with gays and lesbians.