What we can do as dramatic increase in persecution of Ugandan Gays since Anti-Homosexuality Act

Updated 7/9/2014. This post had been removed to archives private because it is an OLD post dated May 16, 2014, and its is being misused by some as a reference for a current Relief Fund , which it is not. It referred to an older relief fund campaign which has since closed. A new relief Fund was Posted July 2014. This Post has now been updated and shows that the campaign referenced herein ended May 31, 2014. A new campaign is currently on Indiegogo at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/lgbt-africa-relief-fund-3/x/532915.

By Melanie Nathan, May 16, 2014.

Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 11.37.05 AMSexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG,) a coalition of Human Rights Defenders in Uganda, has issued a report, “From Torment to Tyranny,” expounding on the extent of the horrific injustice caused by The Anti-Homosexuality Act of Uganda, which came into effect on March 10, 2014.

Since the Bill passed Parliament on December 20, 2013, and was assented to by the signature of President Yoweri Museveni on February 24, 2014, followed by public outings of people perceived as gays, lesbians, bisexual, transgender and/or intersex (LGBTI), the landscape for LGBTI people in Uganda has gone from bad to much worse.

There has been a significant rise in persecution in the period covered by the report, noting 162 reported incidences of persecution perpetrated against Ugandan LGBTI people, which Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and the National LGBTI Security Team have been able to verify through extensive civil society networks.

The Report notes that:

“In reality, this is probably only the tip of the iceberg. Most incidents of harassment or intimidation, for example, are not reported and there may have been other serious cases which SMUG and the National LGBTI Security Team have not been alerted to have been unable to verify.”

SMUG is correct to note that this is a mere tip of the iceberg. And I can attest to that myself. As many readers may know, I started a Rescue Fund in (Updated 7/8/014 -CAMPAIGN completed on 5/31/2014 ) anticipation of President Museveni’s assent to the Bill. This report attests to the dramatically intense need for funds to relocate and feed people. I personally have dealt with over 30 cases (and more applying now) where LGBTI people in Africa, most from Uganda, have come to me for urgent emergency assistance and I have been able to provide a small amount of funding through the generosity of the global community who contributed to the fund, to meet some of the needs.  Many of the people I have helped did not report their cases to SMUG and nor did SMUG have access to these people to include in their report. I currently have a list of 50 people in need of ongoing assistance until a more permanent support plan can be made.

The need is rising and indeed this report is a mere drop in the ocean with regard to what has already taking place.

This is my analysis of how to help the situation, which adds to and compliments the analysis of the Report by SMUG and it will entail a sustained effort to work out plans to:

  • Maintain awareness campaigns;
  • Help outed people relocate to safe shelters, provide food and possible permanent resettlement outside of Uganda and Africa;
  • Find mechanisms to mitigate the culture of dependency created by people having to go into hiding;
  • Legal support to those people facing criminal persecution;
  • Provide security for LGBTI Ugandans;
  • Provide funding to Rescue Fund 2 and legal funds which help with bails and defenses and which are not subject to freezes and closures under the new anti-Promotion clauses;
  • A huge drive for faith based organizations to counter the offensive ideology already in place in Uganda, which contributes to horrendous anti-gay milieu and resulting persecution;
  • Working with U.S. State Department and Governments abroad to come up with sustained plans to help refugees and asylum seekers with better humanitarian responses and reform of policy and laws;
  • Penalize human rights infractions through various means, such as blacklisting and reporting to International tribunals and human rights organizations – and much more..

Please note the one concern I have is that we are receiving reports that it is becoming increasingly difficult for SMUG and the coalition of organizations, as well as for other organizations, to provide people with the support they need. We are hearing of frozen bank accounts, money’s being withheld from organizations. The grave concern is that if people provide funding to groups the monies may never be released to them. There are already reports of this occurring. So we are encouraging funding to be done with great caution.

I ADDED this after I received a comment where some idiot thought I was criticizing SMUG and where some idiot misinterpreted or chose to misuse my words.   Here is the explanation – Insiders reveal that SMUG IS functioning the best it can given the awful new anti-promo law.  According to the new law,  LGBT and human rights defender groups should not exist at all. So for anyone to think that a group can function normally and properly is plain stupid!   There is a law against the functioning of all groups perceived as promoting homosexuality.  THE LAW MAKES IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR ANY GROUPS TO FUNCTION the way they used to – hence the groups “are not functioning properly”  – as would a group in a country that did not have anti-promo law.

UPDATED July 08, 2014.

The Ugandan Government issued a statement that it will allow civil society organizations to operate as long as they operate under the law.  While this seems as if they may not target NGO’s one must note the terminology “under the law.” And so one can only believe that if an NGO is seen to be or caught engaged in so called “promoting” of homosexuality – they may still be a target.  As hard as this is for LGBT human rights organizations to accept, the facts are the facts and the law is the law.  Funders should find creative ways to help with humanitarian needs in Uganda a priority. This may not mean business as usual. Extraordinary times calls for extraordinary measures and anyone trying to escape that fact may be seen to be in denial and may be seen to be using deceptive means to pretend that funding is “business as usual,” including smear campaigns against those who are successfully providing private and crowd sourced funds to LGBT Ugandans in urgent need.

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