Uganda's only LGBT bar, Sappho Islands, closed Sunday night with the landlady saying, according to activist Frank Mugisha (who has just won another human rights award) that the "bar brings people who look strange".
Activist Kasha Jacqueline said on Facebook that she was "heartbroken".
"We surely need a social space with all that we go thru....check the cute smiles on pple's faces at Sappho and imagine what they are gonna feel after the closure.its really a pity."Update: Kasha tells Behind The Mask:
“The closure of Sappho doesn’t mean it’s the end of us having a social space. The way I managed to open Sappho in the first place is the way I will open it up elsewhere.”
“More than ever I am very determined. The next one will be bigger and even better. It’s one way of intimidating us but we shall overcome.”Last year, when the bar opened, activist Val Kalende wrote:
"The opening of Sappho Islands is to me a political statement. Looking how far we have come, I cannot ignore the fact that the Stonewall revolution in the U.S.A sparked off from a bar. When I first heard about Sappho Islands, I saw progress. I celebrated change."But some might say 'That's one less place for LGBT to recruit!' - which according to the Ugandan state is what gay Ugandans do.
"I have lived among LGBT communities for the past eight years and I know how much having a social life means to LGBT folks. I have learned from listening to people’s stories that sometimes anti-gay laws are not what LGBT persons are most concerned with. They are concerned about being able to meet people like themselves, laughing and forgetting their daily struggles even for a single time. I have been to LGBT social evenings and seen how folks do not want to go back home after the party is over. They value the only time they can be happy and have a good time."
In their submission [PDF] to the United Nations Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review they write that:
"There is information of covert recruitment, of especially our children and youth, into such practices which we consider to be detrimental to the moral fabric of our society."No evidence provided of this of course - because none exists.
The 'recruitment' line is one used widely by the proponents of the 'Kill gays' Anti-Homosexuality bill. Chief frontman for the bill, David Bahati MP, was challenged by US MSM news host Rachel Maddow on this last year when he appeared on her show. Specifically, she asked, where is the evidence? Challenged to produce it, he never has. Nor has anyone else.
Uganda is also arguing before the UN:
"While the Constitution, under Chapter Four, guarantees rights of persons, it also imposes duties and obligations on them to ensure that in the enjoyment of such rights, they do not infringe on the rights of others. Those who practice and / or support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) issues continue to push for their recognition as a right."The UN's High Commissioner for human rights, the Special Rapporteur on the right to health, and the Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders and on the right to freedom of opinion and expression have all criticised [PDF] Uganda's treatment of LGBT.
"In Uganda, there is an overwhelming consensus that such practices are untenable; and thus culturally and legally unacceptable. It is our considered opinion that such practices remain a matter of private choice. There should be no promotion of those practices."