Uganda is in trouble. As we sit in the comfort of our homes debating the Gay-Christian issue, Ugandans fear daily for their lives.
For Hitler to round up six million Jews, gays, handicapped or other “undesirables” and send them to concentration camps to die, a lot of people had to look the other way… to their shame. Are we looking the other way now?
Deo Accept is the Program Director at Born This Way Uganda. His real name is Mugerwa Deo, but he goes by Deo Accept because “i use ‘accept’ as a symbol to other people to accept us too.” He has become a friend and messaged me about the horrors of the new anti-gay bill.
He gave me permission to use his name and story. Here is just part of our conversation. Let it settle on you, as if these were people you know and love.
Deo Accept: Thank you Susan, how are you there ?
Susan: I am good! How are you?
Deo Accept: At this time am good but I don’t know what is going to be next from now .
Susan: Yes. It’s very scary, isn’t it?
Deo Accept: It’s more than scaring, everyday things go worse
Susan: Can you tell me what is going on there?
Deo Accept: As a human right defender working with born this way Uganda i have witnessed many sad stories but this is what is happening now.
Deo Accept: On February 24 2014,the lgbt community witnessed the signing of one of the most draconian bills in Ugandan history. The president during his speech said that gays are more nurtured than natured that it was proved by his scientists. We all froze after witnessing the signing. These are horrors that we face:
Life in jail
1. Gay or lesbian sex is now punishable by life imprisonment, even for a first-time offence.
2. ‘Sex’ in this case means not just anal or oral sex, but any sexual contact at all.
3. Touching another person with the ‘intention’ of homosexuality can be punished by life in jail. Even if they are touched through clothes. A kiss, holding someone’s hand or even patting them on the back – if deemed by the court to be an attempt to have sex – can land you in jail for life.
4. If you ‘attempt’ to have homosexual sex you can be jailed for seven years. The word ‘attempt’ is not defined, but it could be something as innocent as sending a sexy text message or asking someone out.
5. Those considered guilty of ‘aggravated homosexuality’ including repeat offenders, anyone with HIV or if you are having sex with under 18s, even if you are boyfriends or girlfriends and just a few days older.
6. An ‘attempt’ to commit ‘aggravated’ homosexuality could land you in jail for life. In other words, you could end your days in prison, just for asking someone for a second date.
Attacks and blackmail
7. A large part of the bill focuses on ‘victims’ – those allegedly lured or forced into homosexuality against their will. They are guaranteed anonymity so journalists and others can’t name them.
8. As well as going to jail, those found ‘guilty’ of lesbian and gay sex may be forced to compensate their ‘victims’ for the ‘physical, sexual or psychological harm caused’. There is no limit on the amount of compensation a court may order you to pay.
9. Experts say all this may make the law a ‘blackmailers’ charter’. So-called ‘victims’ may report cases in the hope of getting compensation.
10. The law says ‘a victim of homosexuality shall not be penalized for any crime committed as a direct result of his or her involvement in homosexuality’. This could mean a ‘victim’ could assault a gay man or lesbian but it would be the gay man or lesbian who would be prosecuted, while the ‘victim’ would get away with it.
11. The bill also offers seven years in jail for people who ‘detain’ others to have sex or use fraud or ‘false pretense’ to ‘conspire’ to have gay sex.
12. Anyone who ‘aids, abets, counsels or procures’ people to have gay or lesbian sex may get seven years jail. This could include those who provide sexual health services, friends who introduce gay people to each other or even priests sympathetic to the LGBTI community.
13. If someone has gay or lesbian sex in your house and you know about it, you are considered to be running a ‘brothel’. That’s even if no money has changed hands and they are lifelong partners. It could land you in prison for five years. So someone could end up in jail just for having a same-sex couple stay with them.
14. And it doesn’t stop there. The ‘brothel’ part of the law may mean landlords are unwilling to rent homes to LGBTI people for fear they will be prosecuted.
15. If you ‘marry’ someone of the same sex, you could get life in jail. But the term ‘marriage’ is not defined in the bill and it’s impossible to ‘marry’ someone of the same gender in Uganda as marriage equality is banned in the constitution.
16. If you conduct a same-sex marriage ceremony, the jail term is up to seven years and the marriage license for the premises you did it at could be cancelled.
17. ‘Promoting homosexuality’ – which can include distributing gay-friendly films or offering office space to an LGBTI equality organization – will get you five to seven years in prison, and a UGX100million ($40,000 €30,000) fine. Gay-friendly companies operating in Uganda could see their directors sent to prison.
18. Under this part of the law, even talking positively about LGBTI people on Facebook or Twitter could see you jailed and fined .
Right now we no longer stay at our homes, we are homeless, depressed and only thinking about killing ourselves. Many of our brothers and sisters in the neighbouring countries are suffering in refugee camps. Some are saying that instead of going to prison they rather commit suicide.
Regardless of your opinion about homosexuality, this is not the response to which God calls us.
Please, pray for this situation.
What else can we do??
Speak! Influence those with whom you have influence. You know your social, religious, work and political circles. Share your heart those who value your opinion. Speak to those who listen to you. Encourage them to do the same. It is critical that the world remain focused and speaks out against this anti-gay law and its implications.
Share articles on Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks to spread the message against this law.
Speak loudly. Speak boldly. Speak now.