Uganda’s Gay Community Fights Back

Hate No More campaign is poised to make Africa more tolerant.

Posted: 08/10/2011 03:48 PM EDT
A member of the Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) works at its office in an undisclosed location on the outskirts of Kampala, Uganda's capital, 29 July 2010. SMUG, a coalition of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) human rights groups, has been working to push for the full equal rights of the sexual minorities and recognition of the same sex relationship in Uganda since its establishment in 2004. In October 2009, Ugandan parliamentarian David Bahati introduced a bill titled 'Anti-Homosexuality Bill' which if passed would increase and expand the penalties for already-illegal 'homosexual acts' to life imprisonment, or in some cases, the death penalty.  EPA/DAI KUROKAWA /Landov

In the face of a government that drafted legislation making it a crime to be gay and a news media that encourages its readers to attack gay community members, activists in Uganda have banded together to launch a bold initiative to fight against the rise in anti-gay sentiment that has become characteristic to the country.


The campaign, named Hate No More, is being led by both Freedom and Roam Uganda and the Uganda Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, a coalition of 30 human rights organizations.


“This is a four-month-long national campaign and will involve us engaging civil society, political leaders, religious leaders and the general public in asserting our voices against psychological and physical hate against those who we perceive to be different from us,” Mr. Geoffrey Ogwaro, an officer with the Uganda Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law said.


Earlier this year, the world mourned with Uganda’s gay community over the violent murder of outspoken AIDS activist David Kato. Since Kato’s death in January, attacks against the country’s gay community have continued in earnest. Activist groups continue to face harassment, and the home of LGBT activist Najib Kabuye was set on fire last month while he was trapped inside.


The success of the Hate No More campaign has the potential to have wide-reaching effects on the African continent, where many countries have discriminatory laws against homosexuals.

(Photo: EPA/DAI KUROKAWA/Landov)