News [1]: Ugandan Gays Refused Space to Speak at CHOGM [2]

By : Sven Rabatzky on Nov 25, 2007 - 10:30 PM
Politics [3]
(Uganda) - East African Gay people came in peace to CHOGM to speak and were met by violent police officers. Ugandan and Kenyan Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) speakers scheduled to give their addresses at the CHOGM Speaker’s Corner in Uganda today left after facing violence from the police and waiting for seven hours to be given entrance to the People’s Space. The People’s Space was designed „to provide opportunities to share in the diversity and richness of the Commonwealth people” and was specifically designated as a space open to all people. It was intended to give people „renewed energy to facilitate social change with a clear sense of building the future together.” The discrimination and violence carried out by police at the People’s Space today is an affront to basic human rights in Uganda.

Amakula, a non-LGBT film organisation in Kampala also faced discrimination for showing a film that discussed homosexuality. Amakula showcases African cinema, „bringing filmmakers together to help create an inspiring and conducive environment for cinema.” The organisation is known for its celebration of African talent, professionalism, human diversity, and creativity. After hosting an LGBT-themed film yesterday at CHOGM that sparked hot debate across the nation, two members of Amakula were thrown out of the People’s Space today. A non-LGBT related percussion group scheduled to perform at CHOGM has been cancelled because its performance was arranged by Amakula. Discrimination against a person because of any God-given attribute, such as sex, race, or sexual orientation, is both against the law in Uganda and a disgrace to humanity. It is love, not hatred that God commands.

The words of declaration stating this message that were prepared so diligently by the LGBT Ugandan and Kenyan representatives were not able to be heard. Instead, police threw them out of the People’s Space and refused to allow them to enter again.

The Ugandan police displayed embarrassingly inhuman and unprofessional behaviour, attacking the LGBT speakers and breaking sticks from trees in preparation for greater harm to the speakers. The LGBT speakers entered the People’s Space to prepare for the addresses they were scheduled to give according to the programme. Police began forcibly removing them. Victor Juliet Mukasa, a Ugandan LGBT Human Rights Defender stood her ground, declaring, „I am not moving a single step from this place.” The police continued their aggressive affront.

„They threw me down. Those who came back to help me from the ground faced it tough. One person was caned for doing so.” Both homosexuals and straight Ugandans are increasingly becoming fed up with the violence and discrimination being directed toward people of different sexual orientations. Heterosexual Ugandans have begun to speak out against such police brutality, stating that they will not tolerate any kind of violence against another human being, regardless of their sexual orientation.

The LGBT speakers remained standing outside the gate in quiet protest, waiting to be allowed back in to deliver their speeches. They were there for a total of seven hours. What was supposed to be one of the greatest fora for free speech has become a disappointment and an embarrassing case of discrimination for Uganda.

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