LGBTI activists and human rights groups in Uganda have launched a four month long campaign to assert that LGBTI rights are human rights under the Ugandan constitution.
During the 'Hate No More' campaign, the activists will also denounce social and institutionalised hatred against homosexuals.
The campaign will see gay activists aggressively tackle misinformation and fears that promote hatred. The tools used by the campaigners will include numerous media messages, one to one dialogue initiatives and calls for an end to discrimination, stigma, hatred and humiliation of homosexuals.
The activists will also address anti gay sentiments fuelled by politicians, evangelical Christian Pastors, the media and punitive laws.
Some of the stereotypes that inform gay hatred in Uganda include claims that gays “recruit children into homosexuality” and that “gays are anti Christian and anti population growth.”
The campaign, launched on Wednesday 10 August in Kampala, is spearheaded by LBTI group, Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) and the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CSCHRCL), which includes over 30 human rights organisations.
The campaign comes at the height of increased new attacks and violence on people for their actual or alleged homosexual orientation. The FARUG offices were broken into a week ago as the organisation prepared to launch the campaign.
Activist Jacqueline Kasha of FARUG said at the launch that “Gays were not asking for special rights.” She added:
“For a long time, gays in Uganda have been harassed, cajoled, insulted, discriminated against and referred to as beasts.”She said that many homosexuals live in fear, and some have been chased away from schools, raped and denied access to health because of who they are.
“The homophobia is given a voice by the press, institutionalized by the Penal Code and given strength by the politicians and religious leaders,” Kasha said.She added that some LGBTI people commit suicide when they can no longer hold the hatred meted out to them. She said gay rights activist, David Kato was murdered because he stood for the truth.
In a press statement the coalition behind the campaign said:
We are demanding that our existence is respected, and not subject us to degrading inhuman treatment.
We are demanding that unfair laws be repealed
We are demanding that those that spread homophobia be held accountable
We are demanding that you stop expelling us from schools, disowning us from our families
We are demanding that you include us in the National HIV/AIDS programs and other empowering programs
We demand because our rights are inherent and are enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda.
We are part of this society we are your children, doctors, employees, parents to mention a few. This is our country, we are Ugandans and Uganda belongs to all of us.Mr Busingye Kabumba, a lecturer of law said gay rights are enshrined in the Ugandan constitution. He said unless Ugandans amend the current 1995 constitution, LGBTI people have the same rights as any other Ugandans. He called for “an end to social and institutional hypocrisy towards gays.”
He said the courts in Uganda had interpreted the constitution, and found that gays have the same rights as everyone else to life, dignity, privacy and respect. He cited the High Court case against the Rolling Stone, a newspaper tabloid that published names, photos and residents of people it assumed were homosexuals with a call to kill them.
The campaign comes at the time when anti gay legislators are agitating for the reintroduction of the Anti Homosexuality Bill 2009 in the Ugandan parliament after it expired in the Eighth Parliament.
Kasha said on Facebook that posters for the campaign had already been distributed in Kampala and they were talking with NGOs, and health service providers in different parts of the country.
"Volunteers are so excited. Next week we start the Politicians, Govt institutions etc... not forgetting police and diplomatic missions dialogues. Four months campaign, it's just the beginning. Hoooray."