News

Documentary Looks Into Uganda's Activist Gay Community

Tabloid newspapers in Uganda have targeted gays - even calling for their murder - as seen in this still from Call Me Kuchu.
Tabloid newspapers in Uganda have targeted gays - even calling for their murder - as seen in this still from Call Me Kuchu.
Nico Colombant

Two U.S.-based filmmakers have made a riveting documentary looking into the struggles and activism of Uganda's embattled gay community.

The film is called Call Me Kuchu. Kuchu is the name used in Uganda to describe members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The film's trailer gives voices to some of them, like Stosh. "People want to know our stories. That is one reason I decided to come out, no matter what," said Stosh.

Filmmaker Malika Zouhali-Worrall said she noticed most outside media coverage seemed to focus on the victimization of gays in Uganda, while she wanted to show a more complex reality.

"Main stories that were getting out there and being reported on were stories of persecution to the LGBT community, all of which was of course happening and it was very important that that got out there," said Zouhali-Worrall.  "But it seemed that no one was actually aware that there was this activist community there that was actually working very hard to change the situation and in some cases actually succeeding in making steps toward changing the situation there."

Watch the movie trailer:

Call Me Kuchu - Trailer from Call Me Kuchu on Vimeo.

One victory last year came when a judge in Uganda ruled a tabloid newspaper violated the civil rights of gays whose pictures were published accompanied with the words "Hang Them."

The film's other director Katherine Fairfax Wright says Uganda is losing a lot by marginalizing its vibrant gay community.

"By and large this is a demographic that is highly educated, highly organized, highly energetic and really hard working. But they are not able to hold jobs, they are kicked out of their homes, they are just not able to be the active members of society as they would like to be," said Wright.

One of the film's main protagonists is David Kato, a gay rights campaigner, who died after being brutally attacked in his home in Mukono outside the capital Kampala in January 2011.

He had been one of those whose picture was published in the tabloid.  His murder took place shortly after the court ruling.

The filmmakers rushed back to attend his funeral and included tributes in the film.

Last year, Sidney Nsubuga Enoch, who was described by police as a well-known local thief, was found guilty of the murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison, but some activists called the trial a cover-up.

In January of this year, activists came together to mark the first anniversary of Kato's killing.

One of those who spoke in his honor was elder clergyman and human rights activist Christopher Senyonjo.

"He was ready to sacrifice himself in order to bring about change, change and justice for the oppressed," said Senyonjo.

Filmmaker Zouhali-Worrall says the film, which is also now a tribute to Kato's last year of life, tries to portray him as the ordinary man he also was.

"David especially is someone who has been both demonized and kind of mythologized depending on who you speak with in Uganda," said Zouhali-Worrall.  "We were keen to show him as we knew him, which was a very normal person dealing with very extraordinary circumstances and as a result, having an incredible amount of courage to do what he did. But we feel it is very important that people understand that he was a normal person like you or I, basically fighting for human rights."

She says the movie has added significance now, as a controversial anti-homosexuality bill has been reintroduced for consideration in Uganda's parliament.  

Proponents of the bill say it no longer includes the proposed death penalty and life sentence provisions for homosexual acts as it did when it was first proposed in 2009, but that it does strengthen laws to reduce homosexuality.

Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, where U.S. evangelical and conservative political leaders have also worked in helping anti-gay efforts.

The film Call Me Kuchu was well received by critics and audiences and won two awards as it made its debut on the international film festival circuit earlier this year in Berlin, Germany.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs