The police raid of a Uganda Pride 2016 event on 4 August has led us to reflect on this question; is it wrong to do the RIGHT thing?
Uganda Pride, held annually since 2012 by Uganda’s LGBTI community with little incident, was marred this year by a police raid, incidents of police brutality and a series of arrests. The police claimed that this event was a breach of the law since the organisers had not obtained permission “to hold public meetings” for their pride event at a nightclub in Kampala (a claim the organisers denied, stating they did, in fact, get a permit to hold the event).
The crackdown on Uganda Pride not only dampened all further celebrations planned, but clearly demonstrated the rapid pace at which spaces for civil society and freedom of expression in the country continue to shrink.
To date, the LGBTI community in Uganda has no legal protection. Despite the annulment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act in August 2014 , which criminalised same sex relationships with a punishment of life imprisonment for the ‘offenders’, LGBTI persons continue to face widespread stigma, harassment and discrimination.
The RIGHT to freedom of expression, association and assembly is well stipulated under Article 29 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda. The right thing, according to the constitution, is to promote and protect the human rights of Ugandan citizens. The wrong thing to do is to deny citizens of Uganda these rights. All Ugandan citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender diversity and expression, should enjoy these rights.
Uganda has ratified major international and regional instruments. Amongst them is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognises all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. At the regional level, Uganda is a State Party to the East African Community Treaty, whose fundamental principles include the promotion and protection of human rights in the region.
Hivos believes that everyone is free to express themselves regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity. We strongly condemn the police brutality and harassment witnessed during Uganda Pride 2016. We endeavour to lend a hand to marginalised communities in the conviction that no one should be left behind. We will continue to cooperate with courageous activists and rights defenders, such Dr. Frank Mugisha, Raymond Nsubuga, Pepe Julian Onziema, Jacqueline Nabagesera, Richard Lusimbo and others to combat persistent prejudices and stigmatisation.
We call on Uganda’s government to fulfill their responsibility of respecting and protecting the rights of ALL citizens regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.