Computer hacking. A leaked document from gay activists’ private strategy meeting. Military aid in jeopardy. Activists pursuing court action on two continents. Nobel Prize winners expressing solidarity. A first-ever HIV clinic for LGBTs.
Uganda has seen all those in recent days as it has become a cauldron of activity both for homophobes and for activists defending the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.
Computer hackers linked to the notorious Anonymous hacking group claimed responsibility for disrupting Ugandan websites in retaliation for government intimidation and harassment of the country’s LGBT community. In an online message to the Ugandan government, the hackers stated, “We have full access to at least 50 of your websites, and even more are being hacked. … This will continue until you change your ways. … We have access to your official bank, to your official news websites, to your department of defense.”
The Ugandan government said it intercepted minutes of a May 4 meeting of LGBT activists that discussed strategies aimed at building support for making homosexuality legal. “Some sources [say] that security operatives infiltrated gay groups and managed to get” the document, The Observer of Uganda reported.
Tactics discussed at the meeting, which was coordinated by the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, or CSCHRCL, included workshops, talk shows, advocacy programs for legislators, fund-raising, and distinct strategies for dealing with friendly and hostile journalists.
Ethics Minister Simon Lokodo said the document would be used to fight homosexuality in Uganda in conjunction with his plan to ban 38 non-government organizations that are LGBT-friendly.
“These people are disruptive; they are promoting a negative culture contrary to the laws of this country. They are promoting homosexuality and lesbianism as an acceptable culture, and this is ruining our lives. … There is now sufficient evidence to move against these evil people. We’ll punish them with a deterrent punishment.”
Geoffrey Ogwaro, the national coordinator of CSCHRCL, said the activists are doing nothing illegal and have been meeting for about six months. He said:
“I am surprised that government does not know its own laws. We are promoting human rights, just like those promoting children’s rights … we don’t have a curriculum that teaches people how to have [gay] sex. Lokodo needs to be educated. He is ignorant.”
The United States might cut off military aid to Uganda — $100 million worth since last year — because of the country’s “escalating crackdown on its gays, lesbians and transgenders,” Wired reported.
JUDGES — 1
Court proceedings began June 25 in the lawsuit brought against Lokodo by Sexual Minorities Uganda, or SMUG, for breaking up an LGBTI meeting in Entebbe three months ago. The trial was adjourned until July 6 because the defense was unready, which irritated the presiding judge, Justice Eldad Mwangusya. As reported by the Sebaspace blog, Mwangusya said:
“These [gay] people have a right of assembly. Why are these workshops being closed [when those closing them] don’t have data about what is going in them?
If you are not aware of what the meetings will be about, why not send in your spies and see what is going on instead of closing them down without any good evidence that they are acting improperly? Some of these cases are a waste of time and resources. …”
Lokodo or someone else in the Ugandan government already may have acted on the justice’s suggestion about spies, judging from the news of the leaked document from last month’s CSCHRCL meeting.
JUDGES — 2
Pre-trial proceedings are under way in a federal court in Massachusetts in the lawsuit by SMUG against pastor Scott Lively of Springfield, Mass., whom it accuses of a “crime against humanity” as defined in the Rome Statutes of the International Criminal Court.
SMUG charges that Lively “worked extensively with key anti-gay political and religious leaders in Uganda with the overall purpose and objective of depriving LGBTI persons of their fundamental rights” by opposing gay rights and encouraging support of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
The conservative Christian advocacy group Liberty Counsel filed a motion seeking dismissal of the suit, arguing that Lively’s anti-homosexuality speeches in Uganda are protected freedom of speech and stating that Lively did not support the death penalty for homosexuals.
NOBEL PRIZE WINNERS
Archbishop Desmond Tutu and three other Nobel Prize winners issued a statement in favor of gay rights worldwide, responding to events in Uganda. Tutu, along with Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi and Muhammad Yunus said:
As a global community of individuals dedicated to a more peaceful and just world, we wish to express our grave concern as to how our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) brothers and sisters are being treated across the globe.
Collectively we represent a diverse array of countries and cultures. Today more than ever, we wish to express that the same cultural values, which have fostered and supported our lifelong quests for peace, also command us to speak out against the violence and discrimination our fellow human beings are enduring every day solely because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex.
The statement was released by SMUG and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights. Kerry Kennedy, president of the RFK Center, said that “Uganda’s efforts to enshrine homophobia in law could ignite a chain reaction through governments worldwide, putting the rights and safety of LGBTI people and their advocates in danger.”
Earlier this month, gay rights activists opened the first HIV/AIDS clinic for LGBTI people in the Ugandan capital. It is sponsored by the gay advocacy group Ice Breakers Uganda and will be run by medical professionals.
Gay-friendly Bishop Christopher Senyonjo led a service to mark the opening of the clinic. Even in times of agony, hopelessness and despair, God loves both homosexuals and heterosexuals, he said..
Gay Star News reported:
The clinic is confidential and free for all LGBTI people. However, a bill saying medical practitioners should report their gay clients to the police is making its way through parliament.
Since the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in 2009, many doctors fear treating gay people in case they are arrested.
The government led an initiative to restrict homosexuals from access to medical care and treatment, which has led to increased infections in the Ugandan gay community.