Ugandan anti-gay law is dead, but court challenge lives on

East Africa Court of Justice (Photo courtesy of EugeneNyawara.com)

East Africa Court of Justice (Photo courtesy of EugeneNyawara.com)

A legal battle continues against Uganda’s now-defunct Anti-Homosexuality Act, led by the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF), a gay-friendly legal advocacy group in Uganda.

HRAPF will not be joined in the case by the UHAI East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative (UHAI-EASHRI) or the Health Development Initiative-Rwanda (HDI-Rwanda), because the East African Court of Justice yesterday rejected their requests to be accepted as “amici curiae.” (That status, which means “friends of the court” allows submission of legal arguments by parties not directly involved in a case).

HRAPF is seeking a ruling by the Tanzania-based East African Court that will make clear that anti-gay laws such as the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Act are unacceptable throughout East Africa.

Uganda’s Constitutional Court overturned the law on Aug. 1 on procedural grounds — the lack of a quorum in Parliament — but did not address claims that the law violated Ugandan constitutional guarantees of human rights.

In the East African Court case, in early 2014, activists seek a ruling that the law violated provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which Uganda accepted in joining the East African Community.

Adrian Jjuuko, directeur exécutif de HRAPF (Photo par Erwin Olaf via Facebook)

Adrian Jjuuko, executive director of HRAPF (Photo by Erwin Olaf via Facebook)

Adrian Jjuuko, executive director of HRAPF, summarized the court’s explanation for its decision, starting with the HDI Rwanda rejection:

“This was on the basis that HDI did not have ‘interest’ in the matter since its founding documents restrict it to work in only Rwanda and yet the AHA is a strictly Uganda law applicable only in Uganda. UHAI EASHRI was found to have ‘interest’ in the matter since their founding documents allow them to work in the whole region, but their application too was dismissed because they could not be ‘neutral’ since they have a partisan interest in the matter.

“Despite this outcome, we applaud UHAI EASHRI and HDI standing up and taking the decision, time, and resources required to apply to be joined as amicii. “

HRAPF provides legal assistance to LGBTI defendants in Uganda under the umbrella of the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CSCHRCL), a coalition of 50 organizations opposed to the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

East African Community members (Map courtesy of WIkipedia)

East African Community (Map courtesy of WIkipedia)

Last year, HRAPF and CSCHRCL said that reasons for pursuing the case include:

“There are real chances of an amended Anti-Homosexuality Bill being brought to Uganda’s Parliament as well as to other parliaments in the region (most notably Kenya and Tanzania); if successful, the [case] would make clear to law makers that such a Bill would contravene the East African treaty.”

Member countries of the East African Community are Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

The HRAPF challenge is limited to three sections of the Anti-Homosexuality Law:

  • A section that grants immunity against prosecution to “victims” of homosexuality who commit crimes when “protecting”  themselves against homosexuality.
  • A section that forbids aiding and abetting homosexuality.
  • A section “on promotion of homosexuality, which provisions are directly in violation of the fundamental principles of good governance, rule of law and human rights, enshrined in the EAC Treaty.”
Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2014.

Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2014.

Before it was overturned on procedural grounds, the Anti-Homosexuality Act provided for:

  • Life imprisonment for same-sex intimacy involving penetration — the same punishment currently provided under existing Ugandan law.
  • Life imprisonment for anyone who “touches another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.”
  • Forced medical examinations for anyone accused of being HIV-positive and of committing homosexual acts, which is termed “aggravated homosexuality,” also punishable by life imprisonment.
  • Seven years in prison for attempts at committing “the offense of homosexuality.”
  • Life imprisonment for HIV-positive people who attempt to commit “the offense of homosexuality.”
  • Seven years in prison for anyone who “aids, abets, counsels or procures another to engage in acts of homosexuality.” LGBT rights activists fear that this provision and the next one will be used against them.
  • Life imprisonment for same-sex marriage. (The Ugandan constitution already prohibited same-sex marriage.)
  • Up to seven years in prison for conducting a same-sex wedding ceremony.
  • Imprisonment for seven years for the “director or proprietor or promoter” of a company or association that is convicted of “promoting homosexuality.” In addition, the organization’s certificate of registration would be canceled.

The law also provided for five to seven years in prison for:

  • Anyone who “attempts to promote or in any way abets homosexuality and related practices.”
  • Publishing “pornographic materials for purposes of promoting homosexuality.”
  • Anyone who “funds or sponsors homosexuality or other related activities.”
  • Anyone who “offers premises and other related fixed or movable assets for purposes of homosexuality or promoting homosexuality.” Landlords who rent to LGBT rights groups are liable to imprisonment too.
  • Anyone who “uses electronic devices which include internet, films, mobile phones for purposes of homosexuality or promoting homosexuality.”
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A good-news map: 78 (was 82) countries with anti-gay laws

78 countries with laws against homosexual activity

78 countries with laws against homosexual activity

Today this blog gets an updated map of countries with laws against homosexual activity.  The total number of such countries is down to 78.  The list had totaled 82 at the beginning of last year.

Mozambique's LGBTI advocacy organization, Lambda, can celebrate the repeal of the country's anti-gay law, but it has not yet won its battle for  official government recognition, which it has been seeking since 2008. (Photo courtesy of Lambda)

Mozambique’s LGBTI advocacy organization, Lambda, can celebrate the repeal of the country’s anti-gay law, but it has not yet won its battle for official government recognition, which it has been seeking since 2008. (Photo courtesy of Lambda)

The latest country to drop off the list is Mozambique, on the southeastern coast of Africa, which removed its anti-gay law as part of an overhaul of its Penal Code in the second half of 2014.

The tiny nation of Palau in the western Pacific Ocean also decriminalized homosexuality last year.  So did the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is recognized as a country only by Turkey.  Tiny São Tomé and Príncipe, in the Atlantic Ocean off the shores of central Africa, did so in 2012, but that fact was little known until last year.

Of course, LGBTI people face hostility, repression, discrimination and violence in a multitude of countries other than those with specific laws against homosexual activity.  One of the most prominent of those exceptions is violently homophobic Russia, which in 2013 outlawed any positive descriptions of same-sex intimacy that minors might read or hear. That anti-“gay propaganda” law is known in Russia as the law “for the Purpose of Protecting Children from Information Advocating for a Denial of Traditional Family Values.”

Also in 2013, a huge setback for LGBTI people occurred in India, when the Supreme Court  struck down a 2009 Delhi High Court verdict that had decriminalised homosexuality.

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3 Gambians seek bail while facing homosexuality charges

High Court in Banjul

High Court in Banjul

Three Gambian citizens facing homosexuality-related charges are asking the country’s High Court for their release on bail, the Gambian newspaper The Point reported.

The defendants — Alieu Sarr, Momarr Sowe and Modou Lamin Bittaye — are the only three remaining in custody among about 15 allegedly LGBT people arrested last fall in an anti-gay crackdown in the Gambia.

Nearly three weeks ago, Sarr was reported in perilous condition in a heavily guarded hospital room.

Defense counsel Gaye Coker said he remains in Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital in Banjul, which is an important reason for granting his application for release on bail.

She said the men were arrested on Nov. 9 near the resort town of Kololi, then were held by Gambia’s National Intelligence Agency until Dec. 24, when they were arraigned at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court on one count of homosexuality.

Map shows Gambian capital of Banjul and the resort town of Kololi (Map courtesy of southtravels.com)

Map shows Gambian capital of Banjul and the resort town of Kololi (Map courtesy of southtravels.com)

The applicants pleaded not guilty and were sent to Mile 2 Central Prison.

The homosexuality charge was withdrawn at the Magistrate’s Court on Jan. 21 and replaced at the High Court with multiple charges of unnatural offenses and conspiracy , she said.

The defendants pleaded not guilty those charges also. Coker said there is no evidence that they committed the crime. In fact, she said, when they were arrested, they were in the company of female friends, not with men.

If convicted, the defendants could be sentenced to up to 14 years in prison. They are apparently not being charged under Gambia’s new law against “aggravated homosexuality,” which carries a life sentence.

The prosecution said that the bail application should be rejected because of procedural errors.

Arguments on the bail application of Bittaye were heard in chambers.

Further action on the bail requests was scheduled for Feb. 17.

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Joining forces to fight for women’s rights, LGBTI rights

The struggle on behalf of human rights for LGBTI people will focus next month on the work of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, as explained in this abridged version of last week’s “RGOD2″ commentary by the Rev. Canon Albert Ogle.

Graphic publicizing the upcoming meeting of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women.

Graphic publicizing the upcoming meeting of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women.

In preparation for the U.N. CSW meeting of March 9 to 20, Ogle is working with a group of progressive religious leaders known as the Riverside Coalition.

The Rev. Canon Albert Ogle

The Rev. Canon Albert Ogle

As a contribution to the important global reflective process of the Commission on the Status of Women meeting at the United Nations from March 9-20th 2015, the Riverside Coalition is inviting four women leaders from very different backgrounds and experience to share their positions on why two separate movements, fighting against gender and LGBT inequality, need to work more closely together to achieve their missions.

Two movements and the same homophobia rooted in sexism

Composed of several major ecumenical and faith traditions, the Riverside Coalition is seeking to build deeper dialogue on the intersection of health, education and business development with gender and LGBT equality. Both movements have been challenged in recent years with a backlash from religious conservative organizations and denominations. International progress on the alleviation of extreme poverty cannot go forward without a clearly articulated counter-narrative that integrates faith values with the human rights agenda.

More recently, moves to redefine the family and “traditional values” at the United Nations have caused more polarization on previously agreed strategies to give more access to women to reproductive rights and remove constitutional and legal barriers in 80 countries which perpetuate stigma and discrimination against LGBT people and women and girls.

Without some agreement around values and outcomes, these legal and cultural barriers, often supported by religious understanding of gender and sexual roles and beliefs, will continue to be a stumbling block to progress on achieving many of the outcomes in the spirit of the Millennium Development Goals and the ability to include important issues in the development of their successors, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).

Why this new dialogue is important

Logo of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women

Logo of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women

The upcoming meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women will be focusing on these two major issues as 3,000 women from all over the world update the global scorecard on how the world is treating women since the historic meeting in Beijing 20 years ago. It will be important to build new networks and help to influence decisions that are based in empirical data and strategic collaborative agreements rather than on more narrowly defined religious interpretation of law, scripture and its impact on traditional gender roles.

The Riverside Coalition is sensitive to the various perspectives emerging in the Global South and has invited four expert witnesses to build a case for more collaboration between people of goodwill and faith traditions and to highlight models where LGBT and gender equality can help all sections of the community.  …

On [Friday, March 13]  the Riverside Coalition will host a panel discussion at the Riverside Church entitled Women of Faith, Women of Doubt. The four panelists will be sharing insights into their work on building support and collaboration between LGBT and gender equality issues in four different contexts and will open up the panel presentations to the CSW delegation and public at large. The four panelists are:

Maxensia Nakibuuka

Maxensia Nakibuuka

Maxensia Nakibuuka is a community activist living with HIV from Kampala Uganda. She has served as a local political leader and is Chair of the Council of the Laity in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kampala. In 2012, she was one of 500 civil society representatives at the UN to discuss the future global AIDS plan and has spoken about the effects of criminalization of people with HIV and LGBT and other vulnerable and populations. She has spoken on panels at CSW about the importance of community health home-based care for women and at the World Bank on the need for collaboration at the grass-roots level for all women – transgender, bisexual and lesbian and straight women. She is developing an important economic model involving a gay/straight alliance in Kampala. In 2014, the Catholic Archbishop invited her to head the Archdiocesan HIV programs and she will be presenting both the positive effects of religious support for health and some of the negative effects of religious discrimination.

Maximilienne Ngo Mbe (Photo courtesy of AfricaPresse.com)

Maximilienne Ngo Mbe (Photo courtesy of AfricaPresse.com)

Maximilienne Ngo Mbe is Executive Director of REDHAC (Central Africa Human Rights Defenders Network) which is the only human rights defender organizations serving eight Central African Countries in Francophone Africa. Her work has created difficult situations for her family, who, because of death threats, have had to be educated in Europe for their safety. She represents one of the few human rights organizations in Francophone Africa to build trust and connections between the straight community and LGBT community, particularly in Cameroon, where it remains illegal to be gay. There are only two attorneys out of 2,000 in Cameroon willing to represent the LGBT community who find themselves in prison or become involved in extortion by the criminal justice system.

Angeline Jackson (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

Angeline Jackson (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

Angeline Cecelia Jackson is Executive Director of Quality of Citizenship, Jamaica and remains one of about five open lesbian activists in the whole of Jamaica. She has spoken at the World Bank about issues affecting women and LBT women in particular –the focus of her organization. She has a strong religious background but the current attitudes of religious leaders in Jamaica has made it very difficult for her to support any particular religious tradition or denomination. She has attended meetings at the US State Department and White House and has recently completed a two-month capacity building training program for young LGBT leaders supported by the St Paul’s Foundation, Metropolitan Church, Los Angeles and the Los Angeles LGBT Center, one of the largest human services organizations in the world serving the LGBT community.

S.N. Nyeck (Photo courtesy of Twitter)

S.N. Nyeck (Photo courtesy of Twitter)

Dr. S. N. Nyeck is Assistant Professor at Clarkson University, Potsdam New York. She had to seek political asylum in the USA following a legal battle in Cameroon where she was publicly outed as a lesbian and subsequently had to flee for her safety. Some of the earliest formulations of LGBT identity and news from Cameroon on the underground LGBT movement came from Sybille’s writings and experience.

Dr. Nyeck is a graduate of Swarthmore College and holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California Los Angeles. …  Dr. Nyeck is the founder of Africa’s Public Procurement and Entrepreneurship Research Initiative (www.apperi.org) and the co-editor of Sexual Diversity in Africa: Theory, Politics, and Citizenship (McGill-Queen’s University Press 2013). …

The panel will be moderated by a leading expert in gender, development and faith issues. Several New York Schools will be invited to engage students to learn more about the UN, CSW and the issues affecting women and LGBT people globally. A reception honoring our distinguished guests will follow the presentation.

* * *

RGOD2 looks at faith and religion from an LGBT point of view and is written by the Rev. Canon Albert Ogle, Vicar of St. Peter’s, Lithgow in Millbrook, New York. Ogle is known around the world for his work in support of LGBT rights and HIV-prevention efforts. He is president of San Diego-based St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation. Donations to the foundation can be made by clicking HERE.

This commentary first appeared in the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News.

It was revised Feb. 16 and Feb. 18 to insert the correct number of out and visible lesbian activists in Jamaica.

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Video: Challenges, hopes for LGBTI rights worldwide

John Avlon (left) was moderator of the Quorum panel discussing worldwide LGBTI advocacy. (Click image to see the video.)

John Avlon (left) was moderator of the Quorum panel discussing worldwide LGBTI advocacy. (Click image to see the video.)

Challenges and hopes for LGBTI advocacy around the globe are the focus of this week’s video in the “Quorum” series of 11 discussions of international LGBTI issues.

In the Daily Beast video titled “Levers for Change,” a panel of three United States-based activists considers LGBTI rights advocacy in the world at large, especially other societies’ relationships with the United States.  Some excerpts from the video:

Sarah Kate Ellis of the LGBT media advocacy organization GLAAD, quoting a Uganda activist:

“When Obama says that what’s going on in Uganda is terrible, it’s Western imperialism. When Jay-Z says it, it’s important.”

Ellis on social media:

“Social media is very powerful and the Internet is very powerful, especially in closed societies, because  at some point that’s the only avenue that they have to get in information and put out information and so it’s very important that we listen to them and reflect that back and follow their lead on that, because we’re not on the ground necessarily and we don’t know what’s going on.

J. Bob Allota of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice:

Homophobia “serves to keep society closed or it serves to not have conversations about why the economic situation is such in a particular country.”

The Rev. Joseph Tolton of the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries. (Click image to see the "Levers for Change" video.)

The Rev. Joseph Tolton of the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries. (Click image to see the “Levers for Change” video.)

The Rev. Joseph Tolton of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, an organization of LGBT-friendly churches in the United States, doing work in Africa:

“I would actually advocate that we not give up on God. Bad theology is the glue to this enterprise of global homophobia. A fresh wind of a new theology can be that tool that dismantles it and can really lead us as an incredibly dynamic avenue of change.”

The “Levers for Change” video is the third of 11 discussions of international LGBTI issues that overall are designed to “reverse the megaphone,” allowing activists from abroad to tell Western viewers about the challenges that LGBTI people face worldwide. The videos were recorded at a December 2014 meeting in New York.

The series, under its full title “Quorum: Global LGBT voices,” is presented by The Daily Beast. The Erasing 76 Crimes blog, as a member of the advisory board for the project, helped The Daily Beast select Quorum speakers.

The video is on the Quorum page and on YouTube.

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Jamaica has a new gay-friendly public defender

Arlene Harrison-Henry (Photo courtesy of the Jamaica Gleaner)

Arlene Harrison Henry (Photo courtesy of the Jamaica Gleaner)

Jamaica’s new public defender supports LGBTI people!

This is refreshing, as the previous public defender seemed ready to deny the right to freedom of expression of LGBTI people and said that we should “tone down” our behaviour if we wanted to be safe.

After she was named as Jamaica’s first female public defender, Henry said that “The LGBT group is … a delicate matter in our country, but they, too, are entitled to equality, representation, and equal protection of laws.”

She added: “The bottom line is I won’t be partial, and if I encounter someone from that group whose rights have been breached, I will be defending them just the same, and every sector in society will be represented.”

The role of the public defender in Jamaica, as described on the office's official website.

The role of the public defender in Jamaica, as described on the office’s official website.

In Jamaica, the role of the Office of the Public Defender is to be an advocate for persons who are without resources to do so for themselves. In fulfilling that role, she can investigate complaints against the government, “seek redress for Constitutional and Administrative injustice,” and pay people’s attorney’s fees, as needed.

Arlene Harrison Henry demonstates for LGBTI human rights at a stand on April 8, 2011. (Photo courtesy of Maurice Tomlinson)

Arlene Harrison Henry (right) demonstrates for LGBTI human rights at a stand on April 8, 2011. (Photo courtesy of Maurice Tomlinson)

Her advocacy for the human rights of LGBTI citizens is not surprising, as she has been a long-time ally of the LGBTI community and briefly served as counsel for J-FLAG [the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays] in the aborted domestic challenge to the anti-sodomy law. She has also participated in public stands on the streets of Kingston to support LGBTI people.

By contrast, consider the following news report on the previous public defender describing his views on LGBTI people. Basically, he felt that we should be seen and not heard. From the Jamaica Gleaner of April 25, 2007:

“Public Defender Earl Witter resorted to the vernacular yesterday as he advised members of the gay community to ‘hold your corners,’ and avoid flaunting their sexual preferences in the face of those who are repulsed by their behaviour.

Earl Witter, former public defender. (Photo courtesy of DigJamaica.com)

Earl Witter, former public defender. (Photo courtesy of DigJamaica.com)

“Condemning violence in all forms, particularly against homosexuals, the public defender, however, warned members of the gay community that if they continued to shove their tendencies on others who found it repugnant, it might incite violence.

” “It may provoke a violent breach of the peace,” Mr. Witter told The Gleaner yesterday evening.

“Earlier in the day, he had addressed the hot-button topic during a Rotary Club luncheon at the Golf View Hotel in Mandeville, Manchester.

“During the luncheon, Mr. Witter said that, as with most things, ‘tolerance has its limits’ and gays and lesbians should be sensitive to the ‘repulsion that others feel’ and should not be so ‘brazen.’ “

Needless to say, the new public defender is a welcome change!

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No LGBT activists win seats on Ugandan anti-HIV panel

Geoffrey Mujisha, executive director of the MARPS Network.

Dr. Geoffrey Mujisha, executive director of the MARPS Network.

An election that could have given LGBT activists a voice in improving sexual minorities’ access to HIV services in Uganda instead ended Feb. 5 amid accusations of manipulation and without any LGBT advocates on a crucial health policy panel.

But the election did accomplish its basic goal — selecting two representatives for the Ugandan panel whose role is to represent the needs of people who are most at-risk for HIV infections, known as key affected populations (KAPs).  Those at-risk groups include LGBT people, but also non-LGBT groups such as truck drivers and fishermen.

Delegates from LGBT groups boycotted the election, charging that it was a sham.  In the election, the two representatives selected to serve on the health panel came from the MARPS Network, which was the same organization that helped make arrangements for the election.

Vinand Nantulya presides at the Feb. 5 meeting of delegates to choose representatives of at-risk groups who will serve on the Global Funds health policy panel for Uganda.

Vinand Nantulya presides at the Feb. 5 meeting of delegates to choose representatives of at-risk groups who will serve on the Global Funds health policy panel for Uganda.

Prof. Vinand Nantulya, who chairs the health panel known as the Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM), said the election was conducted properly. He chaired the election meeting himself at the Grand Global Hotel in Kampala.

LGBT activists said that Nantulya turned over too much organizational responsibility to the MARPS Network. That allowed the organization “to stage another sham election to once again impose heterosexuals on all of us simply because CCM believes gay people are not yet literate on discussing key policy documents that concern them,” one LGBT activist said.

Others said that LGBT activists made a tactical error by boycotting the election, which meant that non-LGBT delegates comprised a majority of those voting.

The CCM oversees programs and makes key decisions about requests for funding from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which finances many of Uganda’s anti-AIDS efforts.

LGBT activists have been seeking representation on the CCM since 2010, according to Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) executive director Frank Mugisha.  In the past, he said, because effective representation was lacking, key affected populations did not benefit from Global Fund projects.

That’s one of the reasons why the at-risk population of Ugandan men who have sex with men (MSM) has an estimated HIV infection rate of 12 percent to 33 percent, compared to 7.3 percent for Ugandans overall.

Recognizing that lack of CCM representation often translates into lack of health care for at-risk populations, the Global Fund has started requiring every nation’s CCM to include representatives of those most at-risk.

That requirement was to be fulfilled in the election that was held Feb. 5 during which up to five delegates from eight different KAP groups would be eligible to vote.  In the end, that meeting  was attended by only about 21 people. It ended up being dominated by delegates from three non-LGBT KAP groups — truckers (5 delegates), uniformed services personnel (5 delegates) and “fisherfolk” (5 delegates). Five delegates from the sex workers KAP group also attended.

Arrangements for the election were made by the MARPS Network.  The nominees elected by secret ballot to represent KAPs on the CCM were Dr.  Geoffrey Mujisha, executive director of MARPS Network, and Shalince Natukunda, also of MARPS Network.

Delegates who had been chosen by two at-risk groups — MSMs and other sexual minorities — boycotted the Feb. 5 election, saying that the electoral procedure was flawed.  Also absent were all but one of the five chosen delegates from each of two other KAP groups — intravenous drug users and transgender people.

LGBTI activist Pepe Julian Onziema (Photo courtesy of VisionAndVoiceAward.com)

LGBTI activist Pepe Julian Onziema (Photo courtesy of VisionAndVoiceAward.com)

“We have chosen not to participate in today’s CCM KAP representatives elections because of it has been stage-managed and we cannot henceforth be part of a process that continuously seeks to undermine and intimidate us,” said Pepe Julian Onziema, SMUG’s programs and advocacy director.

In a press release, LGBTI rights activists praised Nantulya as “a highly respected and liberal-minded person,” but expressed sadness that he would “go against the principles agreed upon and demand we participate in another sham and flawed election.”

On Jan. 21, Nantulya had ruled invalid a previous election of KAP representatives, which had also selected Mujisha and Natukunda.  At that time, he said the “flawed election” was marred by undeclared conflicts of interest, the MARPS Network process of convening a meeting and electing its own staff, and lack of communication, consultation and feedback from KAP representatives and other interested groups.  After the earlier election results were declared invalid, the eight KAP groups were given time to select their delegates to the Feb. 5 meeting.

After the Feb. 5 meeting ended in protests, Nantulya stated in an email:

Dr. Vinand Nantulya, chairman of the Uganda AIDS Commission

Dr. Vinand Nantulya

“I have noted with concern what is being propagated in social media about the elections. I convened all the key affected groups and we worked out a proper representative procedure for conducting democratic elections for the two representatives on the CCM. There are 8 sub-groups or what I call sub-constituencies. We agreed on a transparent process and procedures, including the venue and date.

“[On Feb. 5] when we met only 6 of the 8 sub-constituencies turned up. Two sub-groups absented themselves.  The 6 groups that turned up resolved to proceed and elect the representatives presided over by Chair CCM, with CCM Secretariat as returning officers. Chair wants to see a well-organized constituency of Key Affected Populations.”

The meeting agreed to have MARPS Network continue as the CCM’s secretariat for KAPs.

LGBT activists said that Nantulya had promised that the CCM itself, not MARPS Network, would organize the new elections as a neutral party. But instead, they said, MARPS Network established the rules for participating in the election, contrary to what was agreed upon.

In addition, they accused Nantulya of imposing a last-minute condition that, to be eligible to participate, organizations should be legally registered in Uganda — a difficult or impossible condition for many organizations because the homophobic Ugandan government does not recognize them as valid.

Supporters of Nantulya denied that he had done so.  That accusation is “an absolute lie,” said Solome Nakaweesi-Kimbugwe, chief executive officer at the Nnabagereka Development Foundation. The CCM “is very well aware that most KAPs aren’t legally registered due to the restrictions with the laws. … No CCM constituency has ever been given any such conditions! So why would he give this condition to the KAPs constituency? ”

Lydia Mungherera: "A peaceful way forward will be mutually agreed." (Photo courtesy of Monitor.co.ug)

Lydia Mungherera: “A peaceful way forward will be mutually agreed.” (Photo courtesy of Monitor.co.ug)

LGBT activists also said that Nantulya attempted to intimidate them: “Nantulya continues to circulate communication suggesting that we either do business with MARPS Network or no business at all. We refuse to be marginalized,” one activist said.

In response to the protests, Nantulya encouraged Lydia Mungherera, an HIV-positive medical doctor and AIDS activist, to convene a meeting of all concerned parties to discuss what had happened and what to do next.

She reported that grievances were aired in a “very amicable meeting” that included representatives of sex workers, LGBTI people and drug users, as well as both Mujisha and Natukunda from the MARPS Network.  The meeting developed proposals for future action, which were “agreed upon by all sides, but they decided to go back and consult their constituencies [and] get feed back” before adopting them. “A peaceful way forward will be mutually agreed,” Mungherera said.

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