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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 10 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 32
Pride in Uganda
Section One
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Pride in Uganda

Nation holds its first LGBT parade; Clinton honors activists

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in Uganda for an official visit, presented Ugandan LGBT rights activists with the State Department's 2011 Human Rights Defender Award on August 5.

The next day, activists celebrated with the country's first-ever Pride Parade in the resort city of Entebbe. 'You are a model for others and an inspiration for the world,' Clinton said to representatives of the coalition formed in 2009 to combat Uganda's infamous 'Kill the Gays' bill, which prescribed the death penalty for anyone convicted of 'aggravated homosexuality.'

'It is critical for all Ugandans - the government and citizens alike - to speak out against discrimination, harassment, and intimidation of anyone. That's true no matter where they come from, what they believe, or whom they love,' Clinton said.

The bill, which spurred a global outcry, stalled in Parliament but has been reintroduced in a watered-down form by a member of Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni's party.

According to Reuters, the latest version does not include the death penalty (some activists dispute this assertion), but would still outlaw the 'promotion' of Gay rights and would punish anyone who 'funds, sponsors, or abets homosexuality.'

Clinton said she raised the issue in face-to-face talks with Museveni on August 3.

Before the meeting, Clinton seemed to hint it was time for Museveni, who has been president of Uganda since 1986, to retire.

'It is important for leaders to make judgments about how they can best support the institutionalization of democracy,' she told reporters. 'It's not about strong men, it's about strong institutions.'

AFRICAN GAYS: 'WE ARE HERE'
'Can you imagine that the worst place in the world to be Gay is having Gay Pride?' activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera asked an enthusiastic pre-parade rally in Entebbe.

According to New Yorker reporter Alexis Okeowo, a convoy of marchers and cars adorned with rainbow flags and signs that said 'African and Gay, Not a Choice' left the rally area for a parade around a lakeside park.

The marchers danced, sang, and chanted 'We are here,' taunting government officials who have claimed there are no Gays in Africa.

'I just wish I had a switch to turn on that would make everyone who's Gay say they are Gay,' activist Frank Mugisha told Okeowo. 'Then everyone who is homophobic can realize their brothers, their sisters, and their aunts are Gay.'

Okeowo reports that a woman named Claire told him, 'Even if [Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon] Lokodo came today, he could not stop us.'

Lokodo, a former Catholic priest, is the Ugandan official charged with suppressing LGBT rights groups. In fact, police raided the Pride event, claiming they were told an illegal same-sex wedding was taking place.

Three people were arrested, Okeowo said, including a photographer.

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