Uganda LGBT Pride inspires the world
Almost 100 people turned out for LGBT Pride in Entebbe, Uganda, with only three arrests reported last weekend. A first-hand report by The New Yorker’s Alexis Okeowo reveals their hope and bravery against all odds.
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For years now, Uganda has been the focus of international attention as possibly “the world’s worst place to be gay.” On top of the government’s attempts to pass brutal discriminatory laws which would further criminalize homosexuality, Ugandan “ethics and integrity” minister Simon Lokodo has been orchestrating raids and arrests of activist meetings where human rights and non-discrimination are simply being discussed. “LGBT Ugandans were tired of hearing a story that ignored their nuanced experiences of both joy and hardship,” Alexis Okeowo reported from the Pride march in Entebbe.
In order to avoid police and hooligan attacks, the Uganda Pride organizers chose to hold the celebrations in the lakeside city of Entebbe, several km outside of the capital, Kampala. The festival was planned over three days and nights, from August 2 to 5, culminating on Saturday with the pride parade. Almost 100 marchers proudly walked with a van blasting loud music and holding signs. Many chanted “We are here”, a defiant statement in a country whose leaders often deny their existence, or dismiss homosexuality as a symptom of “Western decadence.” In response to Simon Lokodo’s raids, Ugandan activists have filed a lawsuit against the minister, adding to the bravery of their demonstration.
Renowned lesbian activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesara was in attendance, covered in glitter and neon body paint, sporting a pair of crafted angel wings, The New Yorker reports. Nabagesara came to prominence after the 2011 murder of Ugandan gay activist David Kato, and featured in the documentary Kuchus of Uganda. The forthcoming documentary Call Me Kuchu, slated to be shown at the Image + Nation festival this fall, was likewise filmed in the context of heightened fear around homophobic attacks and government repression in 2010-2011.
Police raided the Entebbe event hours after the parade, arresting three participants and detaining a photographer. However, the four were released before the end of the night and were able to join the celebration that continued in Kampala. “Next time, we begin the march from the police station,” gay activist and Pride attendee Frank Mugisha told The Advocate.
Katherin Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall’s documentary Call Me Kuchu will be screened at the Image + Nation festival this November.
Banner photo via Blottr