The organizers of Uganda Pride 2017 have cancelled this year’s events after police raided the event’s opening gala and surrounded the venues for its other scheduled events.
In a statement released yesterday, the event organizers said, “Sadly, even all the courage and determination that we carry in our hearts is not enough to put the lives of so many innocent people at risk.”
The statement mentioned that the country’s State Minister of Ethics & Integrity Simon Lokodo had threatened to arrest Pride-goers and physically harm one of the event organizers if he ever saw her.
“He has categorically stated, time and again that gender and sexual minorities have no rights in Uganda … He has abused our very existence by stripping us of even the very basic of our rights, he refuses to acknowledge our humanity or right of association, speech, movement as well as freedom from degrading treatment.”
Uganda Pride cancelled amid an ongoing atmosphere of hate
Last year. Ugandan police raided the Mr. and Miss Pride pageant during Ugandan Pride 2016 and arrested its attendees. The police also broke up the event’s Pride march just before it was scheduled to begin.
In 2014, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, a law which criminalizes same-sex activity, individuals, companies and organizations that aid LGBTQ people or arrange same-sex unions. The law also punishes acts of “aggravated homosexuality” with life in prison.
American evangelicals like Scott Lively pushed for the law’s passage. In its run-up, a publication in Kampala published the names and pictures of 100 homosexuals, resulting in the murder of local LGBTQ activist David Kato.
The Constitutional Court of Uganda declared the law invalid because it wasn’t passed in the country’s legislature with the required quorum (that is, the minimum number of members required to validate such a law). The Ugandan government never appealed the court’s decision, possibly in fear of other countries’ sanctions if Uganda pursued its anti-LGBT agenda.
Nevertheless, LGBTQ Ugandans continue to report widespread discrimination, harassment and fear of being reported to the authorities. The country uses forced anal exams to “prove” people’s suspected homosexuality even though such exams are inconclusive and basically just a form of sexual assault to humiliate and intimidate others.
Head here to see a slideshow of Uganda’s 2015 Pride events.
Featured image by David Robinson