By Staff Reporter
KAMPALA, March 29 — Uganda’s parliament recently passed one of the world’s toughest laws against homosexual activities, threatening the existence of the handful of refugees where LGBT people have sought shelter after being kicked out of their homes. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill prescribes life in prison for anyone identifying as a sexual minority, as well as the death penalty for child sexual abuse committed by homosexuals. Additionally, it may result in the closure of any shelter where people have gone to seek safety, as it defines as an offence against anyone who leases a property “for the purpose of undertaking activities that encourage homosexuality.”
In this hostile environment, the BBC got access to these secret shelters and spoke to residents about their lives and concerns. The article shares the story of Ali, whose name has been changed to protect his identity. Ali had kept his sexuality secret but was outed after he was arrested when Ugandan police raided an underground gay bar in the capital, Kampala, in 2019.
After being outed, Ali’s father disowned him and threatened to beat him. His mother urged him to hide, so he fled home without a plan. He eventually found a shelter where he could live in relative safety, but the shelter was raided by the police in 2020. Ali and over 20 other men were arrested and charged in court for violating pandemic restrictions on gatherings and sent to prison, where they were beaten and abused.
Over 20 such homes exist across Uganda, operating with varying levels of secrecy. Many LGBT people find safety and a sense of belonging in these temporary homes. But even here, the danger is never far away. Ali describes how he was attacked one evening in November last year, and one of the assailants hit him on the head from behind, leaving him with bruises all over his face and a big wound on the back of his head.
The sense of chaos is a direct result of the possibility of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill becoming law. The landlord of Ali’s shelter told them to move after the bill was passed, and the manager of the shelter said that they should have everything ready for when he finds a new house. However, prospects are not good, and the future of Ali’s shelter organization is under threat.
In conclusion, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda threatens the safety and security of LGBT individuals, forcing them to seek refuge in secret shelters that operate with varying levels of secrecy. These individuals face violence, abuse, and discrimination, even within the shelters, and the future of these shelters is uncertain. The international community must speak out against these discriminatory laws and support the efforts of organizations that provide shelter and support to LGBT individuals in Uganda. – Namibia Daily News