A Spectrum of Change is Needed for Uganda

Most of us will have seen the BBC documentary Out There back in October, where Stephen Fry challenges the world’s homophobic and absurd anti-gay legislation. If you didn’t, Fry visits countries, including Uganda, where the rightly controversial law to discriminate against, and in certain cases, execute gays, is still being debated.

The bill, which was first debated around 2008 includes conditions such as, any person who enters into marriage with another person of the same sex will be committing the ‘crime’ of homosexuality and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for life. Another is that any person who detains another person with the intention to commit acts of homosexuality with him or herself or with any other person will be committing an offence and will be liable on conviction to imprisonment for seven years. It is saddening to think that these ideologies are being promoted in the modern world, but it gets worse. Uganda has also been called the worst nation for LGBT people to live. The anti-homosexuality bill has come under fire from other countries around the world including many from Europe and America who in turn have been accused by Ugandan officials of promoting a gay agenda to the world.

This week Ugandan LGBT activist Samuel K Ganafa, who has been active in speaking out against the government’s anti-gay bill and proposals, has been arrested. Reportedly Ganafa was charged with “carnal knowledge against the order of nature,” a crime that is often a kind of cover up term for sodomy, and in Uganda carries a sentence of life imprisonment.

Samuel K Ganafa is founder of Spectrum Uganda, a group who on twitter describe themselves as “advocating for the Ugandan LGBT community in its quest for equal opportunity”. Currently their website is suspended, possibly due to Ugandan intervention following Ganafa’s arrest. Unlike the UK law system, things move much faster in Uganda, with the trial following the arrest taking place this week. Despite Spectrum Uganda’s website being suspended, they are still posting their discontent and struggles on social networking sites, another indicator of the oppressive regime that this government promotes.

Many reports have speculated that Ganafa was arrested for his outspoken support of Uganda’s embattled LGBT community. His home is also reportedly to be a safe shelter for many persecuted LGBT Ugandans, another illegal activity.

Unlike Ganafa, Stephen Fry didn’t get arrested or persecuted for his campaigning in the country, but did get challenged on his views. It was in 2009 that Ugandan MPs proposed the death penalty for acts of homosexuality, mainly sexual. The anti-homosexuality bill was temporarily parked after international pressure, but still remains on Parliament’s order and could still be debated and passed at any time. Despite this parking of the bill, there is a lot of work to still be done in countries such as Uganda, and it needs more Samuel Ganafa’s to fight, and more people like Stephen Fry to bring these oppressive governments to task and to the attention of the rest of the world.