In the past week I’ve spend some moments with Clare, a gay activist in Uganda. She invited me to her good-bye party, as she’s moving because of safety reasons. Her compound, even though protected by a high wall with barbwire on top and a steel gate, was broken into several times. “It’s only a matter of time before they break through the bars in front of the windows and enter the house”, she said,”I’ll just have to move.”
The morning before I met Clare for the second time, I was watching "the Butler", a movie about the racial history of America. After seeing it, I realised humanity is a very stubborn student. Basically what happened in the United States in the 20th century isn’t that much different than what is happening right now here in Uganda. Only here it’s the gay community that is being suppressed. Februari this year the president even signed into law the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act. Luckily the law, criminalising being gay, was ruled invalid by the constitutional court only three weeks ago.
Still, the Ugandan gay community is far from being free and many gays and lesbians therefor don’t come out but instead hide their sexuality. Something I understand very well after reading some of the hate mails and fb messages Clare receives. Being out in a country like Uganda, means that you try to avoid public places and when you do go there, you ware a hat, shades and you try to keep a low profile. It means you’re constantly at risk of being bullied or even being targeted with violence. Clare and I visited the church that she used to go to. We couldn’t go in as they told her she wasn’t welcome anymore. I was even forced by police to delete some of the pictures I took at the entrance.
I guess Uganda, and many countries in the world, have a long way to go when it comes down to accepting people for who they are. Whether it’s a colour issue, a gender issue or a matter of sexual preference, the world seems to be far from acceptance. Meeting Clare and seeing how she fights for her rights and the rights of gay and lesbian people in Uganda, was very inspirational.