An LGBT rights activist from Uganda recently visited the area to bring awareness about the oppressive anti-gay laws in his country. Same sex relationships were already illegal in Uganda before the new bill was signed into law earlier this year. The Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Law of 2014 has been in the works for over 5 years and originally called for gays to be executed but that was reduced to life in prison in the final version of the law. In late July, under pressure from the US and other countries around the world, the law was struck down on a technicality by the Constitutional Court of Uganda. Anti-LGBT forces in Uganda vow to appeal that ruling.
Reverend Mark Kiyimba of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Uganda says even before the law was passed, LGBT people in Uganda were not openly accepted in society. However he also said they were not hated. That changed with the passage of the of the new law.
Reverend Kiyimaba says it was American evangelical Christian groups, working with church leaders in Uganda that churned up support for the law. And with that support, came violence against gays in the country.
Kiyimaba says even though the law has been struck down, it will take a long time to undo the damage in his country and he points out that even though this year’s tougher law was struck down homosexuality is still illegal in Uganda so gay rights groups still have a hard time making progress.
Reverend Mark Kiyimaba is in the US speaking to groups about the situation in Uganda. He knows that the law was thrown out on a technicality and that anti-gay groups plan to appeal that decision. He says the evangelical Christian groups have a lot of influence in Uganda.
Reverend Mark Kiyimba is a minister and founder of the Unitarian Universalist church of Uganda. He was awarded the National Education Association’s Virginia Uribe Award for Creative Leadership in Human Rights in Washington, D.C. on July 1st.
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