Friday, November 23, 2007

I was there.

Apparently gay men were not allowed. Not even gay women, because a police officer came and looked us over and asked one of us who ‘looked’ like a lesbian whether she was. She denied of course. Indignantly.

Now, I am jumping the gun.

I have written about the People’s Space. Organised by the British Council at CHOGM. I also commented about the fact that yesterday, some of us were there. And did talk up when a bishop was going on with some homophobic remarks. That was yesterday, and I was not there. But today I was there, and we kuchus were not supposed to be there.

Started like this, from what I could gather.

The kuchus were there early. Hotel Africana, near the Centenary Park. A very beautiful day. No rain, overcast in the afternoon, meant the sun wasn’t so fierce. But the park is a very nice tree shaded area, it would not have mattered. The area which housed the ‘People’s Space’ was enclosed.

The kuchus entered. They didn’t know that their arch-nemesis in Uganda, Pastor Ssempa, (yesterday he was making noises about a ‘secret British’ plot to give the homosexuals space), had a plan in place. Members of the Interfaith Rainbow Coalition Against Homosexuality were already there. They provoked an argument. Very easy when it is Pastor Ssempa against Julie Victor Mukasa. And it worked. When voices were raised, the police moved in. A little chat, and the ‘lesbians’ were chucked out of the ‘People’s Space’. That was about the time that this gay man entered.

I entered and wandered around. Charming area. Lots of things to see.

Then I got to the area where some of the guys were seated. Where are the others? Gloomy faces only. I was told the story.

I went to see for myself. The kuchus were at the entrance. Drawing eyes, and talking. I determined to go and tell them to use the other entrance. I didn’t want to talk to them within the hearing of the security guard nearby, so I started wandering backwards. There was a (an evil) chuckle from someone.

I turned. The devil incarnate.

I am sorry, but I do not like this guy. Pastor Ssempa. He was talking to a group of other guys, gloating. Literally. Because the kuchus had been forced out of the space. I listened, and needless to say, my dislike skyrocketed. He had engineered the whole thing. They had planned to have the kuchus thrown out. They were now gloating about the fact that they had succeded so stupendously. No kuchus would talk. No one would force them to hear talk about the homosexuals.

I was horrified. And determined that the guys should come back in.

My first thought was to warn the others. It had been a plot, and it had succeded. I warned as many kuchus as I could find. Then I went to mission rescue the kuchus outside. Had for support one of the Co-chairs of Sexual Minorities Uganda. We wanted the press to get in into the act. We informed those that we could. But apparently, with the Prince of Wales soon appearing on the scene, my major concern was a bug, a minor thing. Kuchus had been thrown out, so what.

I decided to go ahead. The area is supposed to be free, and controlled by the British Council. So I looked for someone to help there. Stonewalls. Stonewalled. The bureaucracy could not be worked for avowed homosexuals. They would get in, people told me unsympathetically.

I was frustrated.

They are supposed to present some speeches, I said.

I moved towards the gate, to talk to them. As soon as they saw me, the Kuchus themselves told me not to be seen with them. I took the hint, and observed from the side. There was a fracas. Some of the Police Constables trying to chase them away. The girls shouted at them. Stood their ground. They said they were gay, yes, but they also had a right to get into the People’s Space. That they also wanted to talk.

Not in plan for the officiating officials. They decided to manhandle them away. Shouts. Raised voices.

The guys inside the enclosure suddenly rushed towards the fence. They were egging the policemen on. Let them beat the lesbians. Let them chuck them out. The nerve.

I listened in horror. Realised that all these guys were actually members of Ssempa’s church. They had come with the express intention of preventing homosexuals from accessing the space. By hook or crook, and they succeded. They had some who seemed to be their leaders. They ordered some of the others back, that everything was under control.

The policemen started man handling the guys and gals. This of course drew the press. Where my pleas for a breaking news chance were ignored so utterly, the fracas drew them. And that is when I realised that anyone talking to them was being denied entrance. One mzungu woman, (a reporter?) was pulled and she was very loud in her indignation. How could the police do that!

That was about the time that the police realised that they had turned it into a spectacle and the press was recording. Cameras were rolling. They stopped trying to manhandle the kuchus out. They were allowed to sit, near the entrance. The eggers on realised that the police would not force these outcasts out of here. Not as they wanted. Some of their leaders ordered them back. And the press went ahead to listen to the Kuchus’s story.

I went back to sit down, in the tent where the other guys had been forced out. A friend went about 30 minutes later to check on the situation. Told us that we were safer inside than out. That Pastor Ssempa’s goons and the police were around our Kuchu friends.

Pastor Ssempa’s goons. Hitler’s Brown shirts. So much hate and venom from ‘professional Christians’.

We sat on.

It was then that a police officer, a police woman came to check us over. Wondered who of us was a lesbian. It was written on none of our faces. She saw a likely candidate, and called her out. The lady was indignant of course.

The police woman went away. We immediately asked for the details, which were nicely relayed. Someone commented that it seemed the lesbians were the most feared of all of us kuchus.

Prince Charles came. Yeah, saw the guy. Heard the ‘few remarks’ and we all did not even stand to greet him. I asked the others whether this was a sit-down strike. They were still glum.

You know, it is galling. The injustice of it when you are considered so evil that even the police will work in concert with those who illegally work against you. Deny you rights to free speech, to meeting, and are louded because they do so under the guise of religion and morality.

When we left, we talked to Kuchus outside. They were still angry, giving interviews to all and sundry. They were hoping to embarrass the police more into allowing them inside. They did not, apparently.

Did Pastor Ssempa and his goons win? No. I was there. I am gay. I am a kuchu. And we are alive another day.


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