Uganda gays campaign against violence

2011-08-19 16:05
Kampala - Ugandan gay rights activists on Friday began a nationwide campaign against violence in a country where homophobia is deeply rooted.

"We are aiming at that person who has never seen a gay or who hates gays so that they know that we are humans and that we are also parents, teachers, lawyers and doctors," campaign organiser Julian Pepe told the German Press Agency dpa.

"We want them to know that besides what we do in the bedroom, we are also humans and need respect," said Pepe, who heads the umbrella organisation, Sexual Minorities Uganda.

Posters in English and local languages - with messages such as "Uganda is for all of us" and "My body is not a battle field" - were being handed out on the streets and put up on walls.

Ugandan gays say they face harassment not only from members of the public but also from religious leaders and the government.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill was suspended in the legislative house only following an international uproar and after several donor countries threatened to withdraw aid if it was passed.

Activists hope that by approaching people they can overcome the anti-gay sentiment. "The volunteer approaches a person and says, 'I am gay so do not fear me.' People are beginning to understand us. We are fighting against this violence against gays and lesbians," Pepe said.

A prominent gay rights activist, David Kato, was beaten to death earlier this year in his home near Kampala. The murder prompted global condemnation.

Kato was one of several activists who had sued Uganda's Rolling Stone magazine, which published photographs and personal details of homosexuals alongside a headline that said, "Hang Them: They are after our kids." He was also a strident opponent of the anti-gay bill.

Read more on:    uganda  |  east africa  |  gay rights

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