Uganda: Gay Pride event a small step forward

Entebbe, along Lake Victoria, Uganda. (Photo: Niranjanoak/Wikimedia Commons)
Entebbe, along Lake Victoria, Uganda. (Photo: Niranjanoak/Wikimedia Commons)

I was wondering the other day about Gay Pride parades and festivities in cities like Montreal, where lesbians and gays have long had equal civil rights and where the population is by and large quite tolerant. In such cities, the Pride festivities are more a celebration of diversity, and I suppose the statement being made is quite different than the one being made in places where LGBT people do not have equal civil rights — like Uganda.

Still, the fact that Ugandans can mark Gay Pride with any sort of public celebration is progress in that nation, which only last year sought to impose long jail terms on gay people simply because of their sexual orientation.

On Saturday, a group of Ugandans celebrated Gay Pride  at a secluded beach in Entebbe, on Lake Victoria. A Reuters Africa headline pretty much says it all: Ugandans mark Gay Pride, but stigma tempers joy

Said Moses Kimbugwe, who participated in the event: “We are here to send a message to the wider population that we do exist and we want rights like any other Ugandan. We think this is a step moving forward.”

But another participant had this to say, Reuters reports: “Why do I have to celebrate it in an isolated place? Who am I showing that am proud, because we are celebrating to our own selves,” activist Sandra Ntebi said.

Sadly, as Reuters reports, there is little tolerance for gay and lesbian people in Uganda, and it may be a very long time before that will change. And the only reason why the Gay Pride celebration was able to happen at all is because a draconian anti-LGBT law in Uganda — which drew condemnation for Western governments and organizations — was overturned by a court on a technicality.

Reports Reuters: “Despite threats by some lawmakers that the bill would be re-introduced in parliament, that has not happened and analysts say it would be unlikely to succeed in the face of strong pressure from Western donors.”

So, pressure from Western nations — and activists within those nations — may be having some effect. So, let’s keep it up, eh?

Meanwhile, if any members of the Ugandan LGBT community look in here and would like to become writers for this blog, please contact us at lgbtperspectives@gmail.com.

— Jillian Page, LGBT Perspectives editor

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“Let harmlessness be the keynote of your life.” — Alice Bailey

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