The 14 ways Uganda can break free from homophobia forever

Tris Reid-Smith
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LGBTI people in Uganda live with the threat of even more draconian legislation hanging over them. But there is hope.

Under a proposed new law, which is yet to be debated in parliament, even someone sending a text message mentioning homosexuality could be criminalized. Landlords would be punished for renting homes or offices to gay people – effectively making all gay people homeless.

But it is not only the haters who can strategize.

Frank Mugisha, director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), the country’s leading LGBTI organization, shares his ideas for changing a nation almost synonymous with homophobia.

Work with Museveni

President Yoweri Museveni earned condemnation around the world by signing the Anti-Homosexuality Act into law – the one struck down by the courts last year.

To the outside world, he is the enemy. To LGBTIs in Uganda, his government actually represents the best chance to stop new legislation.

‘The government has a lot to lose. It will worry about its international relations, investors in Uganda, trade and tourism. Members of parliament don’t worry about this, they are more self-centered about winning elections,’ says Mugisha.

Problem is that while Museveni leads the National Resistance Movement party and doesn’t want the embarrassment of new anti-LGBTI legislation, parliamentarians may ignore him.

‘If this law ever goes into parliament it will pass right away. They can pass a bill in just hours,’ Mugisha concludes.

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