About 10 media houses were in the conference hall half an hour before the start of the briefing.
Representatives from the slandered LGBTI community walked in at 10:00 a.m. promptly. A panel of 3 LGBTI human rights defenders, Kasha Jacqueline (Freedom and Roam Uganda), David Kisule (Sexual Minorities Uganda) and Victor Mukasa (International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission/IGLHRC) stood up to address the nation.
The activists’ key message was, “We do not recruit.” They stressed this point as they read a press release in both English and Luganda (the dominant local language) and in their responses to questions from various journalists. They called upon the Ugandan government to apply due process, investigate the claims of their ex-colleague, George Oundo, who has confessed to recruiting youth into homosexuality, and hold him accountable for his actions.
Kasha Jacqueline, David Kisule, and Victor Mukasa emphasized that they receive money from funders for their advocacy work but NOT for recruiting.
The media (TV and radio) covered the conference yesterday, and more coverage is expected in the print media today. However, now ex-gay activists—including Oundo and Paul Kagaba—held their own press briefing after the LGBTI press conference. They alleged that LGBTI activists were so scared they have sought refuge at Amnesty International where they spend their nights for their own safety. They also claimed that the LGBTI activists are planning to flee the country. “Let them not run if what they are doing is right,” one ex-gay activist said.
The LGBTI community is filled with fear as ex-gay activists continue to out, attack and slander its members on a daily basis. The situation has turned into a major crisis. The public seems to believe all the lies that are being uttered by ex-gay activists against the LGBTI community. This is happening at a time when the Ugandan government is in the process of drafting a new anti-gay law that will make the lives of LGBTI people in Uganda more miserable.
For a week now on a daily basis, ex-gay activists, including George Oundo, previously known as Georgina, have been making false allegations against the LGBTI community and outing its members. Oundo denounced homosexuality and is now alleging that while he was still a member of the LGBTI movement, he, together with other activists, recruited youth into homosexuality.
This comes in the aftermath of an anti-gay workshop that was held in Kampala less than a month ago, featuring some of the most virulent homophobes from the U.S. religious right. Read more about that conference on our blog here, here, here and here.
IGLHRC is on the ground, monitoring the situation and working with LGBTI activists and other partner organizations on coordination and strategy.
Official Statement From LGBTI Ugandans
IGLHRC believes that a vital part of our mission is supporting the work of activist organizations and allies by disseminating important information on human rights issues affecting LGBT communities worldwide. To this end we are reposting the following announcement from one of our partners.
For immediate Release: Tuesday 31 March 2009
To: Fellow Citizens of Uganda
Over the past few weeks, very serious allegations of ‘recruitment’ into homosexuality, have been leveled against Homosexual Citizens of Uganda by various people and institutions.
We have been accused of accepting huge amounts of money for the so called ‘recruitment’ drives by the Family Life Network (FLN).
We affirm that we are homosexual. That means that we are different in sexual orientation from most of our fellow Ugandans. That does not make us criminals.
We, like all other Ugandans, are responsible and law abiding citizens.
Homosexual Ugandans do not condone or support recruitment of people into homosexuality at any level. We strongly and fiercely condemn it.
We know that sexual orientation is not changeable. We are homosexuals and cannot change. In the same way, we cannot change heterosexuals into homosexuals. We cannot recruit. WE CANNOT, DO NOT, HAVE NEVER, AND WILL NEVER ‘recruit’.
We can only deduce that those leveling these claims aim to inflame the public against us, a minority group.
The allegation that we receive huge amounts of money for the so called ‘recruitment’ services is simply ridiculous. We do not receive any money for ‘recruitment’. It is absurd that some assume we would be paid to do something impossible.
We strongly affirm that these allegations are not only false and ridiculous, they are also far from the truth.
Our campaign for gay rights is rooted in the fact that, as Ugandans, we deserve the respect and protection of the law, just like all other Ugandans. We do not deserve to be discriminated against. We do not deserve to be criminalized. We do not deserve to be treated as criminals simply because we are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Inter-sex.
We call upon all Ugandans to reject this campaign of falsehoods, inflammatory statements and hatred. Ours is a peaceful plea to inform fellow Ugandans about us, to have attitudes changed, so that fellow citizens do not think that we are, as we have been accused of being; ie. insane, pigs, sick, inhuman, un-natural, un-Ugandan and un-African.
We are fellow Ugandans. We deserve equal rights and protection under the Law and Constitution. We don't deserve to be demonized and falsely accused in the name of ignorance of who and what we are.
For and on behalf of all the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Inter-sex, People of Uganda.
For God and My Country!