The Lessons of Uganda

Published: September 1, 2011

The month of December in Africa istypically quiet. Government employees often request early leave—
enough time to travel long roads to visit relatives in rural areas. Everyone knows that if you have a cause, no matter how important, it’s a poor time to get people’s attention. That’s one reason why, as gay eyes around the world focused on the unfolding drama over Uganda’s infamous “Kill the Gays” legislation, someone quietly handed a bill to Malawi’s president outlawing lesbianism in a country nicknamed “the warm heart of Africa.” By the time U.S. and other global activists found out, early in 2011, it was late in the game to do much. “We didn’t know about this until late, late, late last year—late 2010—the same week that it came up for a vote in Parliament,” said Julie Dorf, senior adviser at the watchdog Council for Global Equality. “It had been sitting in committee in Parliament for a year and a half, and no one in the gay movement knew about it!

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