12-27-2010By Julius Kaggwa
LGBTI activist in Uganda
In Uganda, LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) people are hunted. Because I am a sexual minority, someone set fire to my home. People harass me and my family on a regular basis.
Headlines here incite hatred against homosexuals and put our lives at risk. Clergy preach hatred from the pulpit—mothers and grandmothers leaving church services swear that they will lynch the next homosexual person they see. Too often, we wake up feeling helpless and wondering what new attack awaits us.
Watch this video Human Rights First put together when they awarded me this year. It outlines the problem:
Many of us are standing up in Uganda and risking our lives to fight for protection from violence. But without the support of the international community and the backing of the U.S. government, we fear that our efforts may not be enough to stop our own government from espousing bigotry.
The Ugandan government may reconsider a bill that would punish consensual same-sex acts with life in prison or the death penalty. The bill would also criminalize nearly anyone – parents, teachers, landlords – for failing to report gay men and women they know. A law like this would provoke fear, finger-pointing, and witch-hunts.
I’ve been working to defend LGBTI rights for years. Human Rights First has been a lifeline for human rights defenders on the frontlines – helping us turn anguish into action, and then to concrete change that has saved lives. As soon as the anti-gay bill was introduced in 2009, I started working with allies in Uganda to defeat it. Human Rights First got involved, arranged for our coalition to meet with officials at the highest levels of the U.S. government, including the President, to speak about the attacks on our rights. It helped give us hope that things could change.
Human Rights First understands that gay rights are human rights, and, in coalition with others, they have successfully made the case that the U.S. government should publicly denounce this “Kill the Gays” bill. Your support will help us push even harder to block this bill from ever becoming law, and to fight for protection against discrimination and violence for me and other LGBTI people who so urgently need it.
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