News / Africa

Report: Anti-Gay Abuse Surges in Uganda After Bill Passage

FILE - Prominent gay rights activist and Sexual Minorities Uganda program coordinator Pepe Julian Onziema said that well-known homosexuals face constant discrimination and abuse and recalled being ignored many times by medical workers who served others as they gossiped about his sexual orientation, Kampala, Uganda.
FILE - Prominent gay rights activist and Sexual Minorities Uganda program coordinator Pepe Julian Onziema said that well-known homosexuals face constant discrimination and abuse and recalled being ignored many times by medical workers who served others as they gossiped about his sexual orientation, Kampala, Uganda.
Gabe Joselow
— Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International say homosexuals in Uganda have faced increased discrimination since the passage of an anti-gay bill last December. 

In Uganda, members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community, known by the acronym LGBT, say life has not been the same since the passage and signing of the Anti-Homosexual Act, which allows life sentences for those convicted of consensual homosexual acts.

“The atmosphere in Uganda has really changed, especially in the LGBT community in Uganda, the situation is really tense, a lot of people are facing a lot of problems like attacks," explained Jay, a transgender man, who asked we only use his first name for his own protection. "Some of the LGBT people are committing suicide.”

Born a woman, Jay lives his life as a man, binding his chest to obscure his breasts.

Shortly after the law was signed, he went to a health clinic outside Kampala to receive treatment for a fever.  But the doctor refused to treat Jay until he revealed whether he was a man or a woman.

“He said, 'Ok, if you don't want to tell me, then I assume you're a gay.  You're the people we're looking for, we'll have to involve the police in this' and so on.  He tried to harass me.  But still, I was very strong.  I told them I haven't done anything, I've just come for treatment,” said Jay.

Eventually, Jay's partner paid the doctor a bribe of 50,000 Ugandan shillings, about $20, and the matter was dropped.

The new report from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International reports similar cases of abuse, humiliation and discrimination in Uganda.

The report says since the bill passed, at least 17 people have been arrested for alleged homosexual behavior.

Discrimination

Many more have been evicted from their homes, as landlords fear violating terms in the law that forbid homeowners from tolerating homosexual behavior on the premises.

“One of the problems with the law is all of the terms in the law are so vague that basically anybody within Uganda, any Ugandan citizen, any Ugandan resident, can be arrested for almost anything that they do without knowing that they're violating the law.  So some landlords are deciding to play it safe and saying, 'I'm very sorry, I know it hurts you not to have a place to live, but I need to let you go,'” said Neela Ghoshal, a senior LGBT researcher for Human Rights Watch.

President Yoweri Museveni signed the law in February saying homosexuals should be “punished harshly” in order to defend society from “disorientation.”

But Ghoshal said the interpretation of the laws has only torn the community apart, as people are losing jobs and being disconnected from their families for perceived violations of the law.

“We spoke to a number of people who have been disowned by their families since the law passed, which is a bit ironic because those who support this kind of law say that they're promoting family values, but actually we find that families are being destroyed because parents think that they ought to disown their children,” stated Ghoshal.

The report says at least 100 LGBT people have fled Uganda since the beginning of this year.

Two men are set to face trial in June for “unnatural offenses,” in one of the first official prosecutions since the passage of the bill.

You May Like

China Announces Corruption Probe into Senior Ex-Leader

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, being probed for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid