File photo: Shannon Stapleton/REUTERS.
File photo: Shannon Stapleton/REUTERS.

Attacks on LGBT+ Ugandans on the rise after minister proposes death for gay sex

By By Nita Bhalla Time of article published Oct 22, 2019

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NAIROBI - Uganda has

seen a rise in attacks on LGBT+ people since a minister proposed

bringing back the death penalty for gay sex, campaigners said on

Tuesday, warning anti-gay rhetoric was fuelling homophobia.

The Ugandan government has since denied it is planning to

reintroduce an old law colloquially known as "Kill the Gays",

but LGBT+ rights groups said there had been a series of attacks

on sexual minorities after the minister's remarks.

Late on Monday, 16 LGBT+ activists were taken into police

custody after a mob shouting homophobic slogans surrounded their

office and residence on the outskirts of Uganda's capital

Kampala.

"What we are seeing recently - these continuous attacks over

such a short space of time - is not normal," Frank Mugisha,

executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), told the

Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"We know that they are all hate crimes as attackers made

anti-gay comments," he said.

Attacks on LGBT+ Ugandans on the rise after minister proposes death for gay sex, according to LGBT+ campaigners. Video: Zodidi Dano/ African News Agency.

"We cannot make a direct link between the minister's

statement and the attacks, but such remarks clearly help to

stoke homophobic sentiments and hate crimes."

On Sunday, a gay Rwandan refugee was beaten outside his

office in Kampala, while on Oct. 13, two transgender women were

beaten when they were leaving a nightclub, campaigners said,

sharing pictures of the victims' bloodied faces on social media.

Police said they had not registered any cases of assaults

specifically targeting sexual minorities, but an incident had

occurred on Monday and some LGBT+ activists were taken into

police custody.

"True there are people whom the community got concerned

(about) and reported to the police that there were a group of

people who are staying in a house and they looked suspicious,"

said Patrick Onyango, Kampala police spokesperson.

"Police went to the house and they are trying to find out if

they are involved in any criminality or illegal activities," he

said, adding that police have asked the public to be vigilant.

Onyango said the attack on the Rwandan refugee had not been

reported. The assaults outside the nightclub where the two

transgender women were attacked were common, he said.

In a statement, the United Nations refugee agency in Uganda

confirmed there was an assault on a Rwandan refugee, but said

they did not have the full information as the victim was still

recovering from his injuries in hospital.

"We trust the Ugandan authorities to ensure that asylum

seekers are able to enjoy asylum without discrimination in line

with international refugee obligations and the 2006 Uganda

Refugee Act," it said.

Uganda is seen as one of the most difficult countries in

Africa to be in a sexual minority with members of the LGBT+

community facing physical violence and harassment to prejudice

in getting jobs, renting housing or seeking medical care.

Human rights groups have said three gay men and a

transgender woman were killed in homophobic attacks in Uganda

this year, the latest on Oct. 4, when a gay man was bludgeoned

to death.

Uganda's Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo said on

Oct. 10 that government planned to re-introduce an

anti-homosexuality bill in parliament.

Lokodo's statement was widely reported and international

donors to Uganda said they were monitoring the situation closely

and stood by the rights of LGBT+ people.

A spokesperson for President Yoweri Museveni later denied

the plan, saying that Uganda's current penal law - which

provides for up to life imprisonment for gay sex - was

sufficient. 

Thomson Reuters Foundation

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