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Gays in Kenya protest against Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill

Monday, February 10, 2014
Ben Curtis, APKenyan gays and lesbians and others supporting their cause wear masks to preserve their anonymity as they stage a rare protest, against Uganda's increasingly tough stance against homosexuality and in solidarity with their counterparts there, outside the Uganda High Commission in Nairobi, Kenya Monday, Feb. 10, 2014.

Ben Curtis, AP
Kenyan gays and lesbians and others supporting their cause wear masks to preserve their anonymity as they stage a rare protest, against Uganda’s increasingly tough stance against homosexuality and in solidarity with their counterparts there, outside the Uganda High Commission in Nairobi, Kenya Monday, Feb. 10, 2014.

NAIROBI, Kenya – Dressed in rainbow wigs and masks, gays and lesbians in Kenya on Monday joined a global effort to protest against an anti-homosexuality bill passed by Uganda’s parliament that is now in the hands of the country’s president.

Activists are trying to pressure Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni into not signing the bill, which increases prison times for homosexual acts. The bill, which legislators passed in December, also prescribes a seven-year jail term for a person who conducts a marriage ceremony for same-sex couples.

A leader of the protest in Kenya, Eric Gitari, executive director of Kenya’s National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, said the Ugandan legislation has major repercussions on human rights conditions across East Africa. Some gays and lesbians in Uganda have already fled to a Kenyan refugee camp, he said.

Ben Curtis, AP

Ben Curtis, AP

Ben Curtis, AP

Ben Curtis, AP

The Ugandan-related protests come as gay activists focus on many issues around the globe: A new l aw in Nigeria last month increased penalties against gays; Russia has faced questions in the run-up to the Olympics about gay discrimination; and an American university football player on Sunday announced he is gay, setting up the possibility of the first openly gay pro football player.

Rights activists around the world were holding street marches Monday “in solidarity” with Uganda’s homosexuals, said Pepe Julian Onziema, a gay leader in Uganda who said at least 15 homosexuals have fled Uganda since the bill was passed out of fear for their safety.

Gays and lesbians face severe discrimination in many African countries.

The American Jewish World Service, a U.S.-based group, also promoted the global protest against the Ugandan legislation. The group, which supports groups working to advance human rights of vulnerable and marginalized communities, sent a letter to Museveni from 400 rabbis asking that the legislation not be signed.

“Jews were marginalized for centuries and the history of the Europe’s Jews during the 20th Century reminds us that stripping away the rights of minorities by states is often a prelude to the worst kind of treatment,” Stuart Schear, a spokesman for the group, said by email.

The Ugandan bill was passed Dec. 20 by lawmakers, and many of them have since urged the country’s president to sign the bill.

Uganda’s constitution gives the president 30 days to sign a bill or return it to parliament for amendments. But some bills have stayed with Museveni for months – even years – apparently because the “law is silent” about what happens when the president is slow to make a decision, said Ugandan lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi, who has represented gay Ugandans in court.

If the bill is returned to lawmakers, Rwakafuuzi said, they could still pass it into law with a two-thirds majority vote. But that can only happen when Museveni officially returns the bill to the speaker of parliament.

“Museveni can keep the bill for a long time,” said Rwakafuuzi, who predicted upcoming court cases over the legislation.

Museveni has opposed the bill as harsh, but gay activists say Museveni’s other recent thoughts on the matter – that gays are often “abnormal” people who should be “rehabilitated” – fuel discrimination against gays in a country where homosexuality is already illegal.

The bill is popular with lawmakers and Christian clerics who say it is needed to deter Western homosexuals from “recruiting” in Uganda.

In Kenya, demonstrators held signs and chanted slogans outside Uganda’s High Commission on Monday in hopes their message would reach Museveni.

“President Museveni, from the letter he sent, he sounds like a man who wants to be persuaded by science and research,” Gitari said. “I’d want to persuade him with scientific evidence that in 1992 the World Health Organization struck homosexuality from the list of diseases. He should know that homosexuals are not sick people.”

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25 more reader comments:

  1. NiÇë!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:02pm
  2. Good

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:03pm
  3. Very brave of them to do this, respect for them, standing up for what they believe in!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:07pm
  4. Wow. Uganda needs a voice. Thank god for this support coming from kenya!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:15pm
  5. Great….

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:16pm
  6. So he should never sign the bill because bigots have no proof.

    KAMPALA, Uganda — Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said Friday he would sign the country’s controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill only on the condition that he receives scientific proof that gays are made and not born.

    “Unless I have got confirmation from scientists that this condition is not genetic, but a behavior that is acquired, I will not sign the bill,” Museveni reportedly told members of his National Resistance Movement, according to Uganda’s Observer.

    Museveni said his views against the law were influenced by a report by some gay rights activists whom he met recently. “He said that those activists told him that gays were born just like albinos,” a source said.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:23pm
  7. The Real Story of Sodom is about Anti-Immigrant Oppression, the Rape of Immigrant Human Rights.

    The Real Sin of Sodom is Arrogant Bigotry and Oppression of the Poor.
    Ezekiel 16:49

    The Destruction of Sodom was due to deregulated building on deregulated Natural Gas Fields.

    The Real Abominations look like the Republican Agenda of Greedy, Lying Bigotry, Corporate Exploitation and Oppression.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:23pm
  8. so brave, best of luck to them

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:27pm
  9. people should have the right to be who they are without fearing for there life…LOVE IS LOUDER

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:33pm
  10. Brave!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:35pm
  11. Brave!..stay strong!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:38pm
  12. Hoping they are not still executing them over there for being gay.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 3:08pm
  13. Glad for them!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 3:12pm
  14. They have way more courage and honor than any of that hatred and bigotry that plagues our world. Much Love to you my brothers and sisters over there. <3

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 3:16pm
  15. Thats why I do not send them my money.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 3:26pm
  16. Brave!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 3:28pm
  17. Very good! Shame on Uganda and Russia for their anti-gay legislation and medieval thinking.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 3:38pm
  18. Proud and brave people paving the way, even risking their own lives, for the good of all. Totally impressed.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 3:42pm
  19. Rock on ……God stands with us in our struggle for true freedom and equality :-)

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 3:42pm
  20. My prayers go out to the brave individuals within the gay African community. Freedom for all <3

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 4:01pm
  21. Michael Smith. …Ditto… Couldn’t have said it better myself!!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 4:12pm
  22. You guys have such strength. The world gay community should be so proud of you. Who knows what retribution will unfold for you, but never forget that there are millions of gays supporting you at this terrible time.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 4:17pm
  23. Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 4:41pm
  24. Goes to show that gays are everywhere and they’re born no matter what & where and there’s no way to prevent it. It’s natural. They don’t change the population in the slightest. So learn to love & quit hiding behind some pathetic excuse to hate because opinions can evolve can’t they? But you can’t argue against natural fact.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 4:56pm
  25. Love the solidarity!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 5:52pm