AI: Call Me Kuchu (LGBTQ* rights in Uganda)


This is going to be a slightly different than normal AI, in addition to being slightly earlier than normal (it’s afternoon here, at least?). I wanted to start by sharing this pretty time-sensitive petition to stop the revitalised “Kill The Gays” bill going through in Uganda. Sign, share, stop really bad things happening again!
Last weekend I saw “Call Me Kuchu” at the Amnesty UK Student Conference. It tells the story of David Kato, the first openly-gay man in Uganda, and his fellow activists as they try to change attitudes and live their lives as freely as they can in a country where the tide of the law is turning against them. (“Kuchu” means the same as “queer/LGBTQ*”, but is specific to Uganda.) Thankfully last time round the bill that would introduce the death penalty for being LGBTQ* was defeated, but as I mentioned it’s back again, which is pretty awful news for anyone who cares about, well, people in general.
The editor of the Rolling Stone tabloid, which published photos of kuchus and incited violence against them, was among those interviewed. Listening to people speak about how kuchus would “recruit” and hurt children and lead the way for another colonisation by introducing loose Western morals – and really, really mean it – was just mind-blowing. What is particularly frustrating is that, in fact, the influence of fundamentalist missionaries is what’s helping fuel the vociferous anti-gay attitudes. David Kato was murdered while the film was being made (by, I assume, some good Christians – others even turned up to his funeral to spout their bigotry, which I’m sure would make Jesus proud), but people continued the fight. The fact that anyone continues to be open and fight for equality under these circumstances is incredible.
Since I already spoke about this topic in terms of how these messages can be communicated (last time, by a play), I think we should have an open thread on the topic itself: this more extreme side of LGBTQ* rights, both in Uganda and around the world, and particularly how they relate to religion. What related actions have you taken? What do you think of the world’s response to this problem? Don’t people just suck sometimes? (If you want to recommend LGBTQ*-related documentaries that you’ve seen too, feel free to do that.)
The Afternoon Inqueery (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Queereka community. Look for it to appear on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, at 3pm ET.

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  1. I think the tricky part is that any support coming from “the west” can be seen as a way of colonialism, of imposing western values on the traditional culture in an attempt to destroy it. This feeling can be especially strong if requests to stop the bill are connected to the threat to stop western aid programs. I know of one other African country (Nigeria?) where local LGBT organizations actually asked for the west not to interfere unless they ask them to, because any intervention would backfire against the local LGBT community.

    So I think probably best way to go forwards is to support the local LGBT community while leaving all decision making in their hands and making sure that they are not seen as western implants but as something that has grown out of their own culture. Of course this is a much slower process than signing a petition.

    • Thank you for your comment! That’s a great point, and definitely a reason why I’m reluctant to apply the same campaign strategies in these situations as those that I’d apply closer to home, or even to get involved at all. I guess the petition has the benefit of having worked before, and also being accessible to more people.

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