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Ps Pride Assault : PandR: Uganda's Pride Assault

Tue 16 Aug 2016 In: Comment View at Wayback View at NDHA

And so, Uganda is back in the international LGBT news spotlight. This time, however, it is attributable to the actions of its national police force and not its president or hardline religious social conservative legislature. However, things are getting worse in Uganda across the board. Since the last time that I wrote about the African nation's virulent homophobia, there has been comparatively little change in its domestic situation. There was a further Ugandan general election in 2016 and the gerrymandered Ugandan electoral system resulted in the 'majority' re-election of President Yoweri Museveni to the position that he has held for the last thirty years, since overthrowing Uganda's last military dictator in 1986. The National Resistance Movement incumbent governing party was returned as well, while the largest Opposition party, the Forum for Democratic Change, languishes on only one-tenth of the seats in Uganda's three hundred and seventy seat legislature. Unfortunately, it is a military based party and has a strong Northern Ugandan power base amongst the alienated Akholi tribal community, alienated during the Museveni administration's war against the Lords Resistance Army for most of the last three decades. At present, the LRA is striking at other Central African countries through its bases in the Central African Republic. Meanwhile, back in Uganda, inflation has reached twenty five to thirty percent in a corrupt nation where civil servants and politicians routinely receive kickbacks from oil companies and other multinationals active in Uganda. Although Uganda's LGBT community and liberal allied civil society organisations saw off the draconian "Anti-Homosexuality Bill,' which would have whipped up greater hostilities against LGBT Ugandans, and which was struck down by its Constitutional Court and later had its reintroduction to the legislature abandoned due to presidential cold feet, life is still not easy for LGBT Ugandans. In November 2014, the "Prohibition of Unnatural Sexual Practices Bill" was introduced in its stead, officially banning membership of Ugandan LGBT organisations and funding for "promotion" of such activities. As such, it sounds rather like equivalent Nigerian legislation with the same objective in mind. In December 2014, Ugandan LGBT activist Kelly Mukwano (Hate No More) was victim of a hate crime. In 2015, the Non Governmental Organisations Bill emerged instead, targeting any 'dissident' civil society organisation that challenged the authoritarian rule of Museveni and his regime. The legislation gave the government the right to supervise, inspect, approve or dissolve Ugandan NGOs and shut down those judged "guilty" of anti-regime activities. It was condemned by human rights organisations such as Chapter Four Uganda and Human Rights Watch at the time. Kasha Nagabesara, founder of Ugandan LGBT rights organisation Freedom and Roam Uganda, recieved an international "Right Livelihood" award for her courage in opposing Uganda's anti-LGBT legislation in 2015. However, in November 2015, there was a sharp upsurge in mob violence, home invasions and death threats directed against transpeople. At the same time, the Ugandan legislature passed the Non-Governmental Organisations Act, forcing the closure of overseas-funded LGBT aid organisations such as the Walter Reed Project, a HIV prevention group for Ugandan gay and bisexual men funded from the United States. One rare bright spot is the closure of Uganda's scurrilous tabloids,Rolling StoneandRed Pepper, infamous for their homophobic sensationalism. As for the Ugandan National Police, they have enforced the Non-Governmental Organisations Bill on behalf of the regime, not only against LGBT organisations but also governmental accountability groups such as the Citizens Committee for Electoral Democracy Uganda at the February 2016 national election, as well as deliberately obstructing the travel and disrupting rallies held by Opposition Leader Kezia Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change, who has now been accused of treason as of May 2016. The latter was defended by Museveni's Inspector General of Police, General Kashiyura. In July 2016, the UNP violently suppressed ethnic tensions between the Bamba and Bokonzo tribal communities in Uganda's Mwenzori western region, leading to fifty deaths. During the same month, there were break-ins at numerous independent Ugandan civil society groups, such as the Forum for African Women Educators, Human Rights Network for Journalists Uganda and the Human Rights Awareness Forum, which the UNP neglected to investigate. In 2014, other organisations ransacked included the Human Rights Network, Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda, Uganda Land Alliance and the Action Group for Health, Human Rights and HIV/AIDS (an LGBT organisation). Nor is it only LGBT organisations and organised civil society groups that face police reprisals- so do groups of displaced homeless children from the long-standing civil war against the Lords Resistance Army from Northern Uganda. And so to the recent events at Kampala's Club Venom, where Pride celebrations were occuring, which was illegally raided by the Ugandan National Police. The UNP charged that an LGBT beauty pageant was "illegal" because they had not been informed beforehand and an 'illegal' same-sex commitment ceremony would be occurring. The UNP locked Club Venom, beat and harrassed sixteen patrons for the next ninety minutes and behaved especially abusively toward transgender attendees, both transmen and transwomen. An hour and a half later, the detained individuals were released from Kabalagala Police Station. Chapter Four Uganda, Defend Defenders, Health GAP, the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum, Human Rights Watch, Sexual Minorities Uganda and the Uganda Pride Committee all condemned the assaults. However, as can be seen from the accompanying material from Human Rights Watch, Uganda's general condition insofar as human rights and civil liberties are concerned appears to be worsening as time goes on. New Zealand and other Commonwealth nations need to make our repugnance at this repression and brutality clear to the Museveni regime, particularly its brutal and unaccountable police force. Recommended: "Uganda: Investigate break-ins at Groups Offices":Human Rights Watch: 13.06.2016:https://www.hrw. org/news/2016/06/13/uganda- investigate-break-ins-groups- offices "Letter from 31 Ugandan and International Human Rights Organisations:Human Rights Watch: 13.06.2016:https://www.hrw. org/news/2016/06/13/letter-31- ugandan-and-international- organizations "Keep the People Uninformed"Human Rights Watch: 11.01.2016:https://www.hrw. org/report/2016/01/11/keep- people-uninformed/pre- election-threats-free- expression-and-association- uganda "Uganda: Lethal Response to Killings"Human Rights Watch:15.07.2016: 2016/07/15/uganda-lethal- response-killings "Dispatches: Uganda's Brazen Police Beatings"Human Rights Watch:18.07.2016:https://www.hrw. org/news/2016/07/18/ dispatches-ugandas-brazen- police-beatings "Uganda: Homeless children face violence, exploitation" Human Rights Watch: 17.07.2014:https://www.hrw. org/video-photos/photo-essay/ 2014/07/17/uganda-homeless- children-face-violence- exploitation "Uganda: Police attack LGBT Pride Event" Human Rights Watch: 05.08.2016:https://www.hrw. org/news/2016/08/05/uganda- police-attack-lgbti-pride- event Craig Young - 16th August 2016    

Credit: Craig Young

First published: Tuesday, 16th August 2016 - 9:39am

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