Uganda: LGBT activists bravely stage pride parade in Kampala

LGBT campaigners staged a Pride parade in Uganda at the weekend – despite the country being known for its widespread and violent homophobic and transphobic persecution. Danish journalist Mikkel Danielsen reports for PinkNews.co.uk.

“Today I can finally be myself. Usually I have to hide my sexuality to protect myself from being abused,” 26-year-old Rachel Newumbe says, while she is attaching a rainbow coloured flag to a white pick-up truck.

She is a lesbian, but it is only her immediate family and closest friends that know. If the rest of her friends and relatives find out, Rachel is afraid that they will turn their back on her. She did not dare tell anyone that she is participating in the Uganda Beach Pride 2013.

Rachel is taking part in the celebrations together with 200-300 other transgender and gay people, of which the majority are men. The parade is the main event ending the week long Pride festival in the capital city, Kampala. Many participants say, that the parade finally gives them a chance to be themselves and wear the clothes they want to, without fearing for their security.

It’s the second time several Ugandan organisations for the country’s LGBT community have collaborated to arrange the Pride parade in the strongly homophobic country. In 2009, it was proposed in Parliament that homosexual behaviour should be punished with the death penalty, but the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is still under review. When the Ugandan police catch gay people they are often held at the police station for 2-3 days.

A study by Pew Research shows 96% of the population think that homosexuality should not be accepted in Ugandan society. To avoid confrontations with the rest of the population the parade takes place in a more sparsely populated area about 30 kilometres from Kampala. The parade is watched closely by six police officers, who shortened this years route to make sure LGBT participants would not come too close to the locals. (Pink News)

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