"I would rather die struggling to break the chains of bondage than live pretending to be comfortable with the chains. I will fight to whatever level as long as I am not accepting oppression. I will not negotiate with anyone about freedom of gays and lesbians. I will not compromise my vision of a free Uganda for LGBT people. I will not bow down to oppressors or traitors. I am a human being who is homosexual and will forever fight for equality and justice. I will not be intimidated. My homosexuality does not deprive me of my citizenship of Uganda. I am only exercising my constitutional rights. Enough is enough! No guts no victory.…..Julie Mukasa – Chairperson of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG)
Julie Mukasa has now been in hiding under the protection of Amnesty International for exactly 4 months today. JM went into hiding following the illegal raid by Ugandan government officials on her home when they removed documents from her house. A house guest from Kenya was also arrested during the raid and later at the police station was subjected to a degrading body search and humiliating gibes.
The attack on JM is part of a systematic campaign targeting human
rights activists in the whole region of East Africa and lesbian and gay
activists in particular. It is because of this that JM has chosen to
sue the government official, Mr John Lubega who authorised and took
part in the raid and arrests.
- Because he unlawfully entered and searched my home. On top of that he assaulted my guest and confiscated my documents.
- I know that he comfortably, unlawfully did all this because he felt that since I am a homosexual, I did not deserve any dignified treatment as he has always been on the case of homosexuals in Uganda.
- Normally officials and police who harass homosexuals always get away with their actions because it is believed that homosexuals are not human beings. This "legal violence" against homosexuals in Uganda is a violation of our human rights and must stop.
"I/we have never harmed anyone. Even robbers, murderers, corrupt officials and all sorts of criminals are treated with more respect. Many times gay men, lesbians and transgenders have gone through so many similar injustices. We have remained silent and not reported these cases for fear of being thrown behind bars instead of the perpetrators. I personally have faced worse things but kept silent but now it is enough." JM
By taking the matter to court JM hopes to use the case as a tool in the advancement of gay rights in Uganda and elsewhere in East Africa. By declaring the violation of her rights she is making a larger statement about the rights of LGBT and human rights advocates to be able to carry out their work and live their lives without treat of invasion. She hopes that her actions will accomplish the following:
- That the government and people of Uganda will be reminded that LGBT people in Uganda are human beings and therefore should not be treated differently from their heterosexual counterparts.
- That the LGBT community in Uganda will realise that they have rights and that when they are abused they should go ahead and report the injustices to the relevant authorities in the country.
- That these actions in Uganda will give courage to LGBT communities in other parts of Africa who face similar abuse and discrimination.
Despite Uganda and other African countries being signatories to the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgendered people still face social exclusion, discrimination and in many countries they are criminalised. Homosexuality is attacked as being a "western disease" imported like coca-cola and and hip-hop from the US and Europe and as a betrayal of African culture and mores. The same words are spoken about the feminist movement and "rights of women". By dismissing homosexuality as being a "disease" and "foreign", governments and religious leaders are able to dehumanise and criminalise homosexuals to the extent that the general public do not see LGBT rights as a valid part of human rights.
"LGBT rights in Uganda are abused extensively while the so-called `democratic´ government strengthens the homophobia. The press gives this homophobia a voice while the unjust laws stipulated in the Penal Code Act institutionalise it. In addition to these are religious teachings, cultural beliefs and hate campaigns engaged in by political leaders. Homosexuals in Uganda, therefore live in rejection, fear, shame, guilt, disease, homelessness, poverty and the like because of the stigma." JM
This kind of homofacism is reminiscent of Nazi Germany where Jews were
dehumanised in order to better justify their extermination in
concentration camps. It is the same principle.
"The issue of homosexuality is a reality in Uganda just like else where in the world. Let us stop looking at it as a moral issue and focus on it as a completely human rights issue. The LGBT struggle naturally encompasses poverty, homelessness, violence, unemployment, sexism, HIV/AIDS, issues that humanity stands against. That is the human rights culture, which is non-discriminatory and treats all human beings as equal".JM