More Hateful Rhetoric in Uganda

Yesterday started explosively. The headline of The New Vision, the state-owned newpaper in Uganda, read, "Father Musaala named homosexual." The paper showed a picture of the well-respected priest and another of the ex-gay activists at their March 31 press briefing. The story talks about the ex-gay activists’ allegation that Father Musaala is a homosexual. It was very disturbing.

We monitored the media all day. At about 3.30 p.m. parliamentarians started to talk about homosexuality during a live session on the state-owned television channel, UBC—this was one of the items on their agenda that afternoon. Some parliamentarians asked that the minister of Ethics and Integrity, Dr. James Nsaba Buturo, be called in to brief Parliament about what he is doing about homosexuality.

At 6 p.m., popular radio station KFM played clips from interviews with Dr. James Nsaba Buturo and Member of Parliament, Latif Sabagala. Sabagala said that homosexuality is unacceptable because it interferes with the moral values of Ugandans. He sent out a message to government agencies telling them to hunt down homosexuals and arrest them since they have exposed themselves. Dr. James Nsaba Butuaro said that they would discuss the issue in Parliament and get some action. The 9 o'clock news played another clip of Sabagala, saying that there are no laws protecting gays in Uganda.

I guess that’s another way of him saying that homosexuals are not human beings.

I spoke to Frank Mugisha, the chairperson of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). "The LGBTI-community is still scared,” he said. "After our press release yesterday, the public is confused. They do not know what to believe. Those who are thinking through everything they have heard from the ex-gay activists have begun to realize that this is just an agenda to crush the gay rights movement, and it is full of lies."

The Ugandan public is being mobilized, with the aim of getting as many people as possible to sign on to a petition to introduce a strict anti-gay law in Uganda. The Family Life Network—the organization that brought anti-gay activists from the U.S. religious right to Uganda almost a month ago, and that initiated the current wave of homophobic propaganda—are responsible for the mobilization. They have called upon as many Ugandans as possible to sign the petition, which will be delivered to Parliament on April 14, 2009. This will be preceded by a national prayer meeting at the main sports stadium. IGLHRC has received reports that many parents are actually signing the petition.

Victor Mukasa