Yesterday at 10:00 a.m., the Ugandan LGBTI community held a press conference at the Metropole Hotel in Kampala to refute recent allegations that its members recruit youth into homosexuality and receive lots of money from international donors for this practice.
About 10 media houses were in the conference hall half an hour before the start of the briefing. Representatives from the slandered LGBTI community walked in at 10:00 a.m. promptly. A panel of 3 LGBTI human rights defenders, Kasha Jacqueline (Freedom and Roam Uganda), David Kisule (Sexual Minorities Uganda) and Victor Mukasa (International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission) stood up to address the nation.
The activists’ key message was, “We do not recruit.” They stressed this point as they read a press release in both English and Luganda (the dominant local language) and in their responses to questions from various journalists. They called upon the Ugandan government to apply due process, investigate the claims of their ex-colleague, George Oundo, who has confessed to recruiting youth into homosexuality, and hold him accountable for his actions.
Kasha Jacqueline, David Kisule, and Victor Mukasa emphasized that they receive money from funders for their advocacy work but NOT for recruiting.
The media (TV and radio) covered the conference yesterday, and more coverage is expected in the print media today. However, now ex-gay activists—including Oundo and Paul Kagaba—held their own press briefing after the LGBTI press conference. They alleged that LGBTI activists were so scared they have sought refuge at Amnesty International where they spend their nights for their own safety. They also claimed that the LGBTI activists are planning to flee the country. “Let them not run if what they are doing is right,” one ex-gay activist said.
The LGBTI community is filled with fear as ex-gay activists continue to out, attack and slander its members on a daily basis. The situation has turned into a major crisis. The public seems to believe all the lies that are being uttered by ex-gay activists against the LGBTI community. This is happening at a time when the Ugandan government is in the process of drafting a new anti-gay law that will make the lives of LGBTI people in Uganda more miserable.
For a week now on a daily basis, ex-gay activists, including George Oundo, previously known as Georgina, have been making false allegations against the LGBTI community and outing its members. Oundo denounced homosexuality and is now alleging that while he was still a member of the LGBTI movement, he, together with other activists, recruited youth into homosexuality.
This comes in the aftermath of an anti-gay workshop that was held in Kampala less than a month ago, featuring some of the most virulent homophobes from the U.S. religious right. Read more about that conference on our blog here, here, here and here.
IGLHRC is on the ground, monitoring the situation and working with LGBTI activists and other partner organizations on coordination and strategy.
This story continues to develop. Read an update on the situation in Uganda, here.