31 March 2023
About 100 members of the LGBTQ community marched to Parliament to plead with President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene and discourage Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni from signing into law a new bill that criminalises homosexuality.
The protesters held up placards that read: “Abolish the Anti-homo Bill”, “Love is Love”, and “Protect Queer Kids”, as they marched and sang struggle songs.
The march included representatives from the Desmond Tutu Health Foundation, Safe Place International, Triangle Project, Pachedu, Gender Dynamics and #UniteBehind.
Jacqui Benson-Mabombo, a spokesperson for Shemah Koleinu (Hear our voices), said the bill is only waiting for the Ugandan president’s signature.
“We are calling on our president to come out and object to what is happening in Uganda.”
Benson-Mabombo said just the passing of the bill has already affected the LGBTQ community in Uganda.
“Organisations giving health care to LGBTQ community face jail terms and people are forced to report members of the LGBTQ community to the police,” said Benson-Mabombo.
“If my mother doesn’t report me, she may herself face arrest,” they said.
They said people who officiate same-sex marriages and journalists who report on LGBTQ activities will also face arrest in Uganda.
Pharie Sefali, Program Manager for Triangle Project, said people have had to flee their homes fearing attacks.
“If you are gay or lesbian and you are visible about it, you are sentenced to death in Uganda,” she said. “People should not be punished for choosing who they love.”
“We want the government to intervene and advise the Ugandan government not to pass the bill,” Sefali said.
Lynn Bust, project manager of the LGBT Plus Health Division at the Desmond Tutu Health Foundation, said, “The Bill entrenches discrimination and inequality for these already vulnerable populations … A massive step backwards.”
According to the protesters’ memorandum, “The Bill is truly a blatant contradiction of the regional and international commitment which Uganda has not only signed, but has ratified.”
“This anti-homosexual Bill is a regression of the lengthy and arduous labour toward the attainment and protection of regional and international human rights,” says the memorandum.
The memorandum calls upon “all other member states of the United Nations to take a stand against this anti-homosexual Bill and hold Uganda accountable for the criminality of this imminent enactment”.