News / Africa

Ugandan Activist Says Outside Pressure Has Slowed Anti-Gay Bill

Anti-gay demonstration in Uganda
Anti-gay demonstration in Uganda

Multimedia

Audio
  • Valentine Kalend, a Uganda-based human activist spoke with Clottey

Peter Clottey

A human rights activist has praised Washington’s expressions of concern that have helped slow down Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill in parliament which she said, if enacted, would broaden the criminalization of homosexuality by putting to death those with previous convictions.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke out recently at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington against Uganda’s proposed anti-homosexual measure.

Secretary Clinton also spoke with President Yoweri Museveni by telephone expressing her strong concerns about the measure.

Valentine Kalende, an Uganda-based activist said homosexuals and activists, as well as lawyers who defend them, are often violently abused.

Kalende is currently in Washington, D.C. as part of the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership program.

“My mission is to meet faith groups and members of the [U.S.] federal government and LBGT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) groups and other groups working on rights to create more awareness about the anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda,” she said.

Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda with offenders likely to be sentenced to up to 14 years in jail.

Recent polls show Ugandans are against homosexuality with some saying the practice is alien to the country’s cultural practices, as well as an affront to traditional values and belief systems.

Uganda’s proposed anti-homosexuality law stipulates that gays and lesbians convicted of having sex would be sentenced, at minimum, to life in prison. People who test positive for HIV may be executed. Homosexuals who have sex with a minor, or engage in homosexual sex more than once, may also receive the death penalty. Anyone who knows of homosexual activity taking place, but does not report it, would risk up to three years in prison.

But, local and international human rights group have rejected the proposed law saying the move will result in a witch hunt against homosexuals in Uganda.

Supporters of the bill have warned parliamentarians not to block it. They threatened to embark on campaigns against the lawmakers if they fail to end what they described as an abomination that will undermine the country’s moral fabric, as well as its social structure.

Rights activist Kalende said her experience in America will make her better equipped to face the possible challenges in Uganda.

“I have been to Salt Lake City (Utah), which is known for its conservative views from the Mormon Church. Now, my lesson there has been of how to engage conservative religious people [and] religious leaders in a conversation on human rights issues…and that there is room for conversations and dialogue,” Kalende said.

But, barring any government intervention, indications are that Ugandan lawmakers will pass the bill before the end of the year.

Kalende said a majority of Ugandan lawmakers don’t believe that LGBT issues are human rights issues.

She also said that politicians often blame the United States and other European countries of bringing the homosexuality practice to Africa.

“As activists, it is becoming more and more difficult to stay safe and that is our biggest challenge right now because Ugandans are angry now that they think that the government has kind of slowed down on this issue. They want the bill to be passed immediately. Now, in case this bill does not pass, and in case the government backs off, Ugandans are prepared to start shooting gays, or to start raping lesbians, or just doing whatever they can,” Kalende said.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs