News / Africa

Ugandan Activist Says Outside Pressure Has Slowed Anti-Gay Bill

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


  • 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

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

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

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs