Will LGBT Ugandans Ever Be Free?

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Photos by Jake Naughton

Inside the Fight for a Queer Country

Just a few years ago, Kampala was a nightmare for LGBTQ Ugandans, some of whom were beaten and stripped in the streets, chased by angry mobs or jailed.

But you wouldn’t guess that from the relaxed atmosphere at Cayenne on Kampala’s north side. Few people seem to notice the transgender woman dancing by the pool, and if they do, they don’t seem to care.

Javan is tall and has a face that’s hard to read, punctuated by a small stud on the left side of her nose. She moves her elbows and shoulders like most men but her hips like most women. She belongs to a generation of queer Ugandans barely old enough to remember when the antigay fever first erupted here, in 2009.

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Anti-LGBT groups are making inroads across East Africa

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Jacob Kushner and Anthony Langat

NAIROBI, Kenya — Two years after Ugandan legislators proposed a law that would condemn active homosexuals to death, a precedent is spreading throughout the region.

In Kenya, one political party is now working to do the same after drafting a lengthy anti-homosexuality bill that it hopes Kenyan lawmakers will soon enact.

“For our local citizens it proposed life sentences. For the foreigners we propose stoning to death,” said Vincent Kidaha, President of Kenya’s Republican Liberty Party. “There is no African, no Kenyan who is born homosexual. It’s not natural.”

Read the full story at GroundTruth. This article was also featured by NBC News.

Kenya may be uniquely ripe for advances in gay rights

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Kenyan gay and lesbian organizations demonstrate outside the Nigerian High Commission in Nairobi on February 7, 2014. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in 2013 had signed a bill into law against gay marriage and civil partnerships. (SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)

An increasingly supportive church and other signs suggest Kenya may be departing from its neighbors in the region by accepting homosexuality.

NAIROBI, Kenya — For years, homosexuality was as unlawful in Kenya as it was in neighboring Uganda or in Nigeria — countries where anti-gay sentiment is growing.
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Kenya’s penal code prescribes up to 14 years in prison for men who commit “acts of gross indecency” with other men or for any person who acts “against the order of nature.” It’s the same maximum sentence that existed in Nigeria, and seven years greater than what was until recently the maximum punishment in Uganda.

Uganda’s parliament passed a law making “aggravated homosexuality” a crime punishable by life imprisonment. The Ugandan president said on Friday that he plans to sign the bill. President Obama on Sunday condemned the move, and warned “such discrimination could harm its relationship with the United States.”
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In January, Nigeria’s president signed a law that also orders that homosexuals be imprisoned for life and even makes gatherings of homosexuals illegal, including those held by advocacy or rights organizations. The law has already led to numerous arrests.

But in Kenya no such attempt has been made to reduce legal protections for gays, and many Kenyans seem increasingly willing to accept homosexuality as a fact of life, or to move beyond political posturing over the subject altogether.

Read the full story as it appeared at GlobalPost.