Uganda: The Crime of Being Who You Are

This past week has been difficult.

Uganda: The Crime of Being Who You Are
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

I’ll need to make sure that Wednesday’s post is a good news day, because I don’t have anything cheerful to offer right now.

It’s been a bad week for the LGBTQ+ community, and for everyone fighting for human rights around the world. It’s been a week of setbacks and pain and horror.

It has been a week of oppression.

On Tuesday, March 21st of 2023, the country of Uganda has proposed and approved an update to an older law that criminalizes homosexuality. It goes so far as to place a sentence of up to 20 years for the ‘crime’ of identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community. That refers to any sexual or gender orientation besides heterosexual or cisgender.

There is also the potential for a death sentence to be handed down to the convicted who, in some cases fall under what we would refer to as sexual assault…but what the bill now names ‘aggravated homosexuality’.

The only thing currently standing in the way of this bill being signed into law is the decision of the country’s President, Yoweri Museveni. This is not good news.

This is the same man who, on the same day as this bill was being approved, referred to gay people as deviants. Back in 2014, with the first rounds of the original law that was eventually struck down, he was sitting in interviews informing the world that gay people are ‘disgusting’ and ‘abnormal’.

There is very little hope that he will intercede on behalf of the horrifically oppressed community of LGBTQ+ people within his country.

Please consider sharing this one. It’s free, and this issue is urgent. We need to figure out a plan of action to help the people of Uganda get through this.

What Can We Do?

This is one where I don’t have many answers. This is where I would typically throw all kinds of organizations and charities your way, and direct you to organize.

Unfortunately, part of the crackdown against the LGBTQ+ community in Uganda has been to disband and begin raiding and arresting gay rights organizations based within the country.

To my knowledge there isn’t yet a petition going before the United Nations to intervene on the grounds of human right abuses, as the law has not yet been signed by Museveni. I could be wrong, but I can’t find one.

There are general organizations such as Human Rights Watch that are weighing in on this issue already, and that could be a way to help. We will very likely see a migration of refugees out of Uganda following the passing of this law, so volunteering and donating to groups like The UN Refugee Agency may be a way to help them find asylum elsewhere.

Some LGBTQ+ charities are also known for working on the international level to provide assistance to people living in oppressive countries that criminalize their minority status. Stonewall, based in the UK, is another organization that raises funds to provide aid for people seeking to flee such tyranny.

Unfortunately, Uganda is far and away outside of my personal experience. I don’t know the lay of the land, and I don’t know who to contact for information. If you have ideas of how to help, please, put them in the comments. I’d be more than happy to update this post with better information.

This is a subject that is so, so painful to write about. Not having a means of assistance to hold up makes me feel incredibly helpless. As ever, we must use our platforms to raise awareness of serious issues like this one, and we can’t give up hope.

All human beings are worthy of respect and deserve freedom and liberty and fair justice. We are watching that being taken away from people before our very eyes.

But even when things feel hopeless, always remember. The moment we give up is the moment we lose.