Student protest against gay persecution in Uganda

The National Union of Students Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Campaign (LGBT) campaign held a rally in conjunction with Gay Rights Uganda last Friday.

The protest was against the current government-sanctioned persecution, torture and arrest of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people in Uganda.

In recent weeks, the Ugandan Government has vowed to toughen laws regarding homosexuality, launching a campaign to arrest those who ‘recruit homosexuals’, and claiming that the ‘disease’ of homosexuality has spread throughout Africa. The current action taken by authorities in Uganda began on Monday the 15th of September, according to Gay Rights Uganda. Action being taken includes arbitrary arrest, imprisonment and harassment. Last week, Pastor Isaac Kyoobe Kiweweesi was arrested investigated for alleged homosexuality.

NUS will also be protesting at the treatment of those who escape this persecution and flee to the UK, such as Ugandan gay asylum seeker Kizza Musinguzi. The UK Home Office claims that LGBT asylum seekers need no protection and can return to their home countries providing they are ‘discreet’. Kizza Musinguzi, in a statement on the NUS website, said “The Home Office wants to deport me on the grounds that the persecution I suffered in Uganda does not constituent persecution. Returning me to Uganda would put my life at risk because the Ugandan government is aware of my campaign activities.”

The protest was held at Uganda House, Trafalgar Square and will mark Uganda’s Independence Day. NUS LGBT Officer, Lucy Brookes, said, “This protest is an opportunity for all students to show their support for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans people in Uganda, who are facing brutal persecution purely on the basis of their sexuality.”

Welfare office of the Warwick SU said in a statement to the Boar that, “This essential protest will demonstrate to the Ugandan nation that this unacceptable form of discrimination has no place in a modern progressive world that should be striving for equality. Warwick Students’ Union fully supports the NUS LGBT campaign in this important protest”.

The protest was also attended by speakers Peter Tatchell, of Outrage!, Kizza Musinguzi from Gay Rights Uganda and Davis Mac-Iyalla of Changing Attitudes Nigeria.

Homosexuality has long been a problem in Ugandan society. It is also a major institutional concern as government officials now, and in the past, have overtly declared themselves against homosexuality. The Ugandan government have repeatedly rejected the call of gay rights groups to secure equal rights for the state’s 500,000 homosexuals. The roots of the distrust of homosexuals can be found in Ugandan post colonial studies. The claim is that homosexuality was a brought to the area by colonisers. Ugandan press have also been involved in ‘naming and shaming’ those they suspected of being gay, including members of the church and local government.


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