In the Shadow of Violence and Threats, Ugandans Throw Celebratory LGBT Pride

It’s a crime to be gay in Uganda. But that’s not stopping these people from celebrating Pride.

Image via YouTube

Just last year, Ugandans abolished a law that would have subjected certain citizens found guilty of homosexual acts (which included “touching hands in public”) to life in prison. It was a small victory in a country where gay acts are criminalized, and anti-gay hate and murder remain a powerful, ongoing threat. Despite violence, however, Ugandans managed to plan a real gay pride—including film screenings, cocktail hours, and a discreet private parade.

Image via YouTube

The theme of Pride is “We Are Family,” and organizers were quick to acknowledge that the goal is celebration, not protest. According to Richard Lusimbo, head of the Pride Committee, LGBT Ugandans have recently experienced less violence at the hands of the police than at the hands of their families. “The law is only part of it,” he told The Guardian. “It doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have the people on your side. The biggest challenge is to get that neighbor, that shop keeper, that person working in the salon to support you.”

This will be the fourth Ugandan pride, and organizers hope it will be their biggest. While violence remains a threat—“Socially, we can't say that anyone won't be throwing stones or homophobic insults,” Lusimbo says—high-profile activists remain somewhat protected. Neela Ghoshal at Human Rights Watch told CNN: “They become so well known that it protects them.” For many Ugandans who don’t enjoy that international attention, coming out—and living as—remains a real danger.

That’s not stopping these outrageously brave Ugandans from planning an outrageously bold party. Same-sex relationships are illegal in 36 of Africa’s 55 countries. While Uganda has attracted attention in recent years, progress, it appears, is happening, and international attention helps. The parade will go on, and people will continue to applaud.

(Via: The Guardian)

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