Uganda is infamous for its “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” threatening to imprison people for decades for expressing same-sex attraction or housing, feeding or knowing an LGBT person. It was later turned over by a national court on a procedural technicality, but attacks against LGBT Ugandans rose as a result and currently, the country’s fresh crop of presidential candidates have all promised to resurrect the law. But let’s look for a second at the love and strength that continues to thrive there despite that horribleness.
According to the Love is Uganda website:
In November 2015, journalist and photographer Katie G. Nelson flew to Kampala, Uganda to interview a group of young gay and transgender Ugandans. Each of those interviewees had been forced into hiding after a local tabloid printed their photos alongside the headline “500 (UG) Gays Hold Secret Party”. That party was otherwise known as the Uganda Pride festival.
Nelson interviewed some local gay and transgender Ugandans, focusing the interviews around one question, “What does love mean to you?” Most of her interviewees refused to show their faces, but one especially intrepid trans person named Abdul showed their face and nailed the true tragedy of the nation’s queerphobia:
“It really makes me sad when you really love your country but you cannot actually express it,” Abdul says, “because I cannot have freedom of expression. ‘Hey! I’m trans and I love myself,’ ‘cause the next thing is I’ll be beaten, I’ll be tortured and then I’m in prison, raped and everything.”
In short, the nation’s hateful policies towards LGBT people keep its own people from uniting or living honest, expressive lives. In a nation beleaguered by widespread poverty, governmental corruption, child labor and child sex trafficking, LGBT people are merely a scapegoat and the entire nation pays the price of keeping them persecuted.
Just think of the social good LGBT Ugandans could do if they were allowed to live sincere, productive lives rather than hiding in fear. So while it’s important to pay attention to the anti-LGBT politics there, let’s not forget that all of Africa tends to get a bad rap in the media in general and that the positive, beautiful things happening there are just as important to notice.
Watch the Love is Uganda video below: