Fewer than 20 openly LGBT Ugandans attended a public protest in Kampala calling for equal rights.
Speaking at the protest in the capital of the east African country, lesbian activist Jacqueline Masha said “We are law-abiding citizens. We deserve equal rights and protection under the law and constitution.”
Ugandan law deems homosexuality as illegal. Despite there being no known cases of lesbians or gays being convicted, legislation states that perpetrators of this ‘crime’ can expect to face a penalty of up to seven years’ imprisonment.
“Uganda is a Christian country,” said Minister of State for Ethics Nsaba Buturo. “We don’t believe in homosexuality. We love the gays and homosexuals but we hate their activities. We want to help them to get rehabilitated.”
According to Associated Press, the protestors, all but one of whom were female, told of their experiences of homophobia at the hands of church officials and ordinary Ugandans.
Masha has been victimised by verbal taunts, such as “pig,” “inhuman” and “un-Ugandan.”
Victor Mukasa, described being publicly stripped naked and taunted by a pastor and his congregation as they attempted to ‘exorcise’ her. Mukasa remains proud: “That did not stop me from being a lesbian.”
Activists say Uganda, with a population of 31 million, has some 500,000 gays and lesbians.
Ugandan officials have previously blamed Europe for ‘spreading’ homosexuality.
Last year, Ugandan Bishop Luzinda said: “I have been hearing that gays are demanding that the government should legalise their activities. This is absurd because God created a man and woman so that they can produce and fill this world.
“The government should not be tempted to legalise this backward culture which is bound to destroy this country.
“Not all that comes from Europe is superior and must be taken up by us.”