Gay men fleeing persecution in Uganda

A draft of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is being tabled before Uganda’s parliament, prompting many gays within the country to leave, fearing prosecution.

Paul and his partner John, using aliases, spoke of their violent confrontations and upsetting treatment at the hands of police.

“The large mob of men and women smashed my car, broke into the house and started beating me”, Paul said. “I was at home watching a movie when I heard people shouting that they wanted to kill these people. As the voices grew louder I knew it was my day so I knelt down and prayed to God.”

Paul was arrested and jailed after he went forward to record a statement. He was bleeding profusely after being both physically and sexually assaulted, and was only released when other inmates, fearing he was dying, alerted the prison guards.

John said he was beaten by a mob on the street after his name and photo were published in ‘The Rolling Stone’, a local newspaper 18 months ago.

Both John and Paul are living in exile in Nairobi.

The Ugandan government has denied any accusations of ill-treatment or homophobia. Uganda’s Minister for Ethics and Integrity, Simon Lokodo insists they have “never hurt or isolated persons of this particular sexual orientation.”

However, he did concede that gay people were leaving the country in fear of what would happen to them should the Bill be passed.

The Bill, first proposed in 2009, outlines lengthy prison sentences and the death penalty for ‘repeat offenders’. Any homosexual activity would be required by law to be reported within 24 hours.

Mr. Lokodo was quick to defend the Bill, saying it does not marginalise, criminalise or stigmatise.

“All we forbid is their boasting, exposing their identity because then they will be given the impression that this is lauded by the laws of this country.”

The front page of 'The Rolling Stone', which began a spate of homophobic attacks after its publication 18 months ago

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