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Kiwi lawyer fundraises for Ugandan LGBTI advocate

Mon 21 Nov 2016 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

A New Zealand lawyer is calling on the LGBTI community to help make a tangible difference in one of the world’s most anti-LGBTI nations, Uganda. Rainbow Lawyer Charlotte Shade first met gay Ugandan advocate James Lukwaago during a trip to Uganda in 2009 and has kept in touch with him since. Now, she is fundraising for the passionate LGBTI advocate to attend law school in order to help him continue fighting the injustices faced by his community. The Ugandan LGBTI community faces extreme persecution and live in fear of being beaten, brutalised by Police, jailed or murdered. Activists in the country are vulnerable targets and many in the past have been killed for publicly fighting against homophobia. Lukwaago is one of many who have faced backlash for their activism and has continued to fight. As a nation with a history of anti-LGBTI legislation and societal attitudes, in February 2014, Ugandan President Museveni signed an Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law. The bill was later struck down by the Constitutional Court who ruled it null and void as it was passed illegally because there were not enough lawmakers present. However, in November 2015, lawmakers passed a new anti-LGBTI law, banning all non-governmental organisations that “promote” homosexuality or provide support and advocacy for LGBTI people. As a member of this heavily persecuted Ugandan LGBTI community, Lukwaago has worked tirelessly to fight against injustice and to promote a sense of pride within his community. This has seen him help to facilitate Pride parades and mobilise advocacy groups for those who have been imprisoned for their sexuality. Determined to make a tangible difference in his society, Lukwaago wants to become a Human Rights lawyer and has been accepted into law school in Kampala, however he has not received funding for the majority of his studies. His only chance at attending law school is with the help of others and Shade has set up a Givealittle page to fundraise for his University fees. Shade says this is a cause she would like the New Zealand LGBTI community to get behind as she believes “as part of a global community we have an obligation to - especially as a developed country that has benefited from a whole lot of things that have actually been of direct detriment to the developing world.” She says “We are hugely privileged and have a responsibility to give help where it’s asked for - not necessarily to impose what we think of as help, but certainly to give help where it’s asked for. “Obviously for most New Zealanders, the particular atrocities being committed in Uganda against the LGBTI community are quite clearly breaches of Human Rights; they can't be considered 'cultural' anymore, they can't be allowed to slip through unaddressed or unprotested on the basis of cultural relativism. “We are talking about arbitrary jail sentences and deeply held discriminatory sentiment in a country that actually supported the 2014 Bill, dubbed the “kill the gays Bill”, that was going to impose life sentences or death penalties for anyone 'proven' to be homosexual. It's totally, categorically wrong.” To support Lukwaago and his goal of making a difference in the Ugandan LGBTI community, check out the Givealittle page here.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Monday, 21st November 2016 - 10:20am

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