Sunday, June 25, 2023

3 Popular Ugandan, and African Parsing of Homophobia


This is a 3 part reply to an article written by one, Mathew Otieno, a Kenyan, published on a . This is Part 3.


Finally, I would like to challenge Mathew Otieno’s assessment of the effects of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2023 in Uganda.

From Mathew’s assessment, this is going to be very little. According to him, few people were arrested under the old sodomy laws, and it is difficult to prosecute adults for consensual sex.

“The older law was, however, never used to convict anyone. The new law makes it easier to prosecute and convict offenders. However, since it still relies on self-reporting for most of the violations, it’s unlikely to result in a significant rise in convictions.

Additionally, Uganda hasn’t executed anyone in nearly 20 years, and is unlikely to do so any time soon, having struck down the mandatory death penalty in 2019.”

But, with all due respect, I would like to point out that heterosexual Mathew Otieno hardly understands the lived realities of kuchus (LGBTQ+) individuals on the ground, in Uganda, and apparently in Kenya too. Prosecutions did happen with the old law.

Here is the story of a teacher and her lover in Jjinja, who were arrested and jailed, now out on bail, under the old law. What’s reported in the papers is tenuous at best, but this is a couple that was suspected, and it became an issue on social media, leading to parents rushing to the school to remove their children because there was possibly homosexual recruitment going on in the school.

And, another story of 6 young men arrested, most likely still in jail the last 4 months, because a less than 60 second digital film of them having sex leaked on social media.

Those are not the only examples out there.., those were the ones most widely reported. And that was even before this, the ‘enhanced’ Anti-homosexuality legislation.

I, as a Ugandan kuchu living and working in Uganda, I am liable to mandatory life in prison, no parole, if I am caught having sex with my lover. As the law puts it, our mutual consent to have sex is no defence. If I am caught another time, as a ‘serial offender’, the death penalty would apply to me. If I am HIV positive, the death penalty enhancement applies. And, in prison, the State can enforce ‘treatment’ for my sexuality, to turn me straight. That is the law.
These threats are not theoretical, as Mr Mathew Otieno brushes them off (of course to him they are a theoretical challenge). They are a lived reality of my life.

And, the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 is not just about catching me having sex. It is also about empowering anyone who knows that I am gay.  Those who know can report me, and are handily protected.., by the Whistle-blower’s Act. I can be attacked, because I am suspected of being so, and I can be lynched, in an exuberance to arrest the homosexual, like happened to this couple. A gift to the police who would get bribes from me, and from blackmailers and others. That is the lived reality of most kuchus, in Uganda, (and in Mathew Otieno’s Kenya) at the moment, under the old ‘sodomy laws’, post colonialism.

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 is very broad. It is good that you have a link to the whole piece of legislation. But, it is more important to actually read and understand its scope.



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