A new law in Uganda broadly criminalizing the LGBTI* community has captured global attention. The law includes provisions against “Aggravated Homosexuality” that criminalize the sexual activity of HIV+ people with life in prison or even the death penalty. Other loosely defined activities such as “abetting homosexuality” and “conspiracy to engage in homosexuality” are also criminalized. TRNN Editor-in-Chief Maximillian Alvarez speaks with renowned Ugandan LGBTI activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera to discuss the origins of Uganda’s recent turn towards politicized homophobia and transphobia, as well as the consequences of the new law.
*LGBTI stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex—this is the preferred acronym used in Uganda.
Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera is a founder of the LGBTI movement in Uganda, and the founder of Freedom & Roam Uganda, a prominent human rights organization that addresses discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people. Nabagasera opened Uganda’s first gay bar and organized the country’s first pride parade. She’s also the first LGBTI rights activist to be awarded the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, and additionally received the Right Livelihood Award for his activism in 2015. She currently resides in Massachusetts.
Studio/Post-Production: Adam Coley
The following is a rush transcript and may contain errors. An updated version will be made available as soon as possible.
Maximillian Alvarez: Welcome everyone to the Real News Network. My name is Maximilian Alvarez. I’m the editor-in-chief here at The Real News and it’s so great to have you all with us. The Real News is an independent, viewer supported nonprofit media network. We don’t take corporate cash, we don’t have ads, and we don’t put our reporting behind paywalls, which means we need each one of you to become monthly sustainers so we can keep bringing y’all coverage of the voices and issues you care about most. So please head on over to the realnews.com/support and become a supporter today. It really makes a difference. Conservatives here in the United States are ramping up their fascistic and increasingly genocidal attacks on queer and trans people, passing legislation in state houses around the country, stripping basic human rights from LGBTQ+ folks, denying more and more people access to vital healthcare services, and criminalizing their very public existence.
As is invariably the case, and I am speaking here as someone who was raised deeply conservative and identified as a religious conservative for the first 18 to 20 years of my life, rather than advance a broad inclusive class-based politics to address the issues in our country, the American right will always find some minority outgroup, some boogeyman to scapegoat for all of society’s ills, whether it’s undocumented migrants, welfare recipients, or now trans people. And crusading against these outgroups inevitably becomes an effective mechanism for building support for what is otherwise a deeply unpopular political agenda that serves the bosses, the business class, political donors, Wall Street, and the endless war machine. But it’s crucial to understand that the vicious and violent attacks on the humanity and human rights of LGBTQ+ people are raging around the world right now, taking evermore extreme forms and things are certainly getting extreme and very dark in the country of Uganda right now, with the recent passage of a draconian bill that criminalizes people for identifying as LGBTQ+ or LGBTI as is commonly referred to in Uganda.
As Reuters reported on March 22nd, “Uganda’s parliament passed a law on Tuesday making it a crime to identify as LGBTQ, handing authorities broad powers to target gay Ugandans who already face legal discrimination and mob violence. More than 30 African countries, including Uganda, already ban same sex relations. The new law appears to be the first to outlaw merely identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer according to rights group, Human Rights Watch. In addition to same sex intercourse, the law bans promoting and abetting homosexuality as well as conspiracy to engage in homosexuality. Violations under the law draw severe penalties including death for so-called aggravated homosexuality and life in prison for gay sex. Aggravated homosexuality involves gay sex with people under the age of 18 or when the perpetrator is HIV+ among other categories according to the law. The legislation will now be sent to President Yoweri Museveni to be signed into law.”
To talk about this frightening new bill and the intensifying attacks on the rights and humanity of LGBTI people in Uganda, I’m honored to be joined today on The Real News by Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, who’s calling in from Massachusetts. f Kasha, thank you so much for joining me today on the Real News Network.
Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera: Thank you for inviting me. It’s a pleasure.
Maximillian Alvarez: Well, it’s a real honor to have you on and of course I wish that we were connecting under less horrifying circumstances, but this is where we are and I want to make sure that everyone watching and listening really understands what we are up against here, what is happening in Uganda, how it connects to this larger assault on the humanity and human rights of LGBTQ people around the world, and I couldn’t be more grateful to you for taking the time to sit down and chat with us.
Now before we get into the current anti-LGBTI bill in Uganda, let’s give viewers and listeners some historical context, especially for those who live here in North America and sadly maybe aren’t keeping up to date on all of this as the years go by. You founded Freedom & Roam Uganda 20 years ago. I was wondering if you could take us back to that time and talk about what it was like for you founding that organization in that climate in 2003. What was the state of LGBTQ or LGBTI rights in Uganda at that point and how have things evolved for you and the LGBTI community in Uganda since then?
Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera: Yes, thank you, Max, again for the platform. Yes, 20 years ago I was just out of university and before I started Freedom & Roam Uganda, it started as a social movement because I had been expelled from so many schools. Even at university, I almost failed to complete my degree because I was always summoned at the administration for simply being open about my sexuality. And so I decided to research about homosexuality. Why is it a big deal? Why is it that I’m being expelled from so many schools? Everywhere I go, my sexuality is becoming a problem. And in 1999, that’s when I found out that it was illegal to be a homosexual in Uganda. It was an eye-opener and here I am a university student and I didn’t know all this time that I was living openly gay, that it was illegal to be gay in Uganda.
So I started meeting with my friends in bars and talking about this and we are like, “We need to do something about this,” but we didn’t know what to do. I decided to do some research and that’s when I found out that it was not only illegal in Uganda but also other African countries and even world over. So it was a shocker for me that I could actually be in prison for life according to the penal code of Uganda, Penal Code Act 120. So I said, “Something has to be done, something needs to be done.” I did a lot of research. I contacted other organizations in South Africa because it was nearer to me than going to European countries or North American countries. So I contacted Behind the Mask in South Africa and I introduced myself and told them that, “I need help. I also need to fight the law in Uganda. How can I go about it?”
And so that’s how it started. And over the years, we just continued to be social movement, just meeting in bars, LGBT people, hooking up, drinking and partying. But then every time, every Monday in the newspapers, there were articles about us, that homosexuals drink from such and such a place and people were getting attacked. And then I said, “We need to do something about this because now the places where we hang out are being exposed in the media and people are getting attacked. It’s really high time that we start a political movement.” And the only way we could start a political movement was to organize properly. And so that’s how Freedom & Roam started. Actually, it’s a lesbian, transgender, and bisexual women organization. But then we talked to the gay men and we said, “Well, we are already facing so many problems just as women and now being lesbian women, it’s double stigma and discrimination. Why don’t you also form your own gay organization?”
We form our own lesbian organization. And then the youth that we were with also decided to form a youth organization and all of us together came and said, “Let’s form different organizations to deal with our specific organizations, but as a country to voice out on advocacy, we should come up with a network.” And so in 2003, Freedom & Roam started, the organizations like Spectrum started, the youth organization started Queer Youth. And then after one year, after we had really put a foundation, we started Sexual Minorities Uganda as our network. And by then we already had criminal laws in Uganda criminalizing homosexuality to life imprisonment. But the law had loopholes and that’s why we were able to organize because it was talking about same sex act. So they had to get you in the act to be criminalized under this act.
But then we said, “Well, let’s start organizing and create spaces for advocacy, create awareness in the media so let even other people who are like us out there can know that they’re not alone.” Because when I was growing up, I was being told that I had demons and they need to cast the demons out of me. I was told I was not a child of God. And so I know that there are other people who are going through this and this is the time even the government had called on all schools to expel suspected homosexuals. This is 23 years ago, 20 years ago I’m talking about. So the situation was also dire that time, but not as cruel as it is now. And so slowly by slowly over the years, the movement began growing, we began speaking out openly but that didn’t go well because the more visible we became, the more the environment became harsh.
And then in 2009, we got some visitors from Massachusetts, Springfield who came to Uganda from the right wing here because they had failed to fight the war here in America. So they decided to take advantage of a very poor country that needed their aid, that needed their services, but in exchange that they take on their values, they take on their views against homosexuality. And so we paid the price as the LGBT movement and that was the first time that these anti-gay laws started appearing. Before we were being attacked in the media, we were being refused open healthcare systems and all that services, but we never had laws coming up. But then this law started coming up in 2009 when the American Evangelicals started coming to Uganda, addressing our parliament, addressing churches, going to schools. And so the environment changed completely because they came with this blueprint on how to fight homosexualities.
And the biggest anxiety and fear and panic they caused in the society was that we are recruiting children. And definitely everyone stood up and raised their voices and their hands and said, “We need to protect our children.” And that was their propaganda so they could get everyone on board, “Protect your children from these homosexuals.” And then they came with ex-gays from America who testified that this is something that cannot be inborn, this is something that can change easily. So our members of parliament, our family members, started thinking that we are actually just choosing to be gay. And so that was this start of all this harsh laws popping up. We fight them, they keep coming back, and the sexual offenses bill has also been brought up. So they’re trying to get almost every bill in Uganda that has to do with anything to do with sexuality, they sneak in clause to do with same sex relations. And so this is where we are 10 years later.
Maximillian Alvarez: Man, you aren’t kidding when you say there’s a playbook here, right? And we’re going to talk about that in a second because this is a playbook that we know all too well here in the United States. The right wing is using this fear of what gay and trans people are going to do to our children as the tip of the spear to advance this reactionary wave of anti-queer, anti-trans politics. But as a Latino, I hear this all across Latin America and we’re seeing a lot of evangelicals in places like Brazil passing on the same message, really stoking the same anger, the same fears.
So this is a real crisis and I want to circle back to that in a second, but before I do, since you walked us all the way up to where we are now, and I really thank you for doing that because I know our viewers and listeners will appreciate all of that context, I wanted to hover for a second and talk about this new bill, which passed parliament last week with near unanimous support and makes it a crime to even identify as LGBTI. So I wanted to ask what does that mean in practice? Let’s make sure that viewers and listeners understand what this bill will actually do and what it will mean for LGBTI people in the country.
Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera: Yes, Max, I just want to update you that since Tuesday last week, that’s 21st of March, the final bill that has been sent to the president has since removed the identification and the touching clause because members of parliament themselves say that same sex people should not hug anymore because someone might mistake that to be conspiring to commit homosexuality. And it’s very sad because this bill cannot be implemented. It’s just going to be used to hunt people. It’s going to be used to intimidate opponents. It’s going to be used to cause a lot of fear and panic among the society because how can you say you’re going to get someone conspiring to commit homosexuality? How are you going to get that someone is conspiring to commit homosexuality? And this is exactly what we’ve been fighting and telling legislators that, “You are rushing to pass a bill.” First of all, they broke the rules of procedure because when a bill is presented, it’s supposed to be given 45 days to the public, to stakeholders to come and discuss the bill.
But we were given only 12 days to discuss this bill and within 12 days, a few people managed to address the parliamentary legal and affairs committee and then within one day, two hearings and the bill was passed. So it was a rushed bill and we wonder what is pushing our parliamentarians to be in a hurry to pass this bill? And that is something that everyone is asking, “Why the hurry? Why the rush? And why now? And why now?” because when this bill was first introduced in 2009, it took four years for it to become law and it was passed with the death penalty. But because by that time the death penalty caused a lot of uproar from around the world, this time they did not include the death penalty when they were introducing the bill because they wanted to prevent the world to know or to cause an uproar again like last time.
But at the last minute when they were discussing it, they sneaked in the death penalty, at the last minute, I think just 30 minutes before the bill was passed. So we wonder what is the agenda behind this rush to pass the anti-homosexuality bill and why now? But for us in Uganda, we know it’s because there’s been a lot of problems happening in the country and they’re looking for something to distract the masses from the real issues that are affecting the Ugandan public. And we know that one thing that is going to bring everyone together, let it be opposition leaders with the ruling government, we know what is going to bring all religious denominations onto one round table is the issue of protecting children. So everyone is in a hurry and a panic and a rush to rush and protect children, which is very weird because we already have laws that are protecting children.
If they feel that the laws are not strong enough, we ask them, “Why don’t you go and strengthen the already existing laws instead of coming up with a whole new law? If you want to protect children, are you protecting them for only same sex relations, only LGBT people?” And we also gave them records for example. Over 3000 cases were recorded during Covid, the pandemic, of young girls’ pregnancies and all these were perpetrated by heterosexuals. If you look into the criminal reports from the police, 90% of all the cases are cases where it is heterosexuals that are violating children. But we wonder why they’re rushing to create a whole new bill in the disguise that they’re protecting children. So we know they just witch-hunting LGBT consenting adults. So it’s very problematic.
Now for example, even if they’ve removed the identification that it’s no longer going to be a problem for me to identify as LGBT, fine, but you’re already criminalizing me because I’m a known and I’m a proud lesbian woman and I’m not going to stop doing that. First of all, I’m married. I have marital obligations. That means that makes me a serial offender. And serial offenders are going to face death under aggravated homosexuality. So you see that even if they remove the obvious acts like touching and identification, I’m already now under pressure, under fear, under anxiety all the time because I have to go back home. After I finish my treatment, I’m going back home. And what would that mean for me to go back home? Even me speaking to you is termed as promotion of homosexuality.
I run a media house, LGBT Media house. I run a media house. So our work is also going to be illegal. Even our magazines that we produce annually to educate the masses, to create mind change, all that is going to be illegal and we shall face 20 years in prison. So basically it’s either death or 20 years or life in prison. There’s no way some of us are going to get out of this. And that’s why we are calling on people to help us to make sure that it does not become law. Because right now, it’s still an act… I mean it’s still a bill, but the moment the president consents to it, there’s going to be a lot of issues facing the community, our allies, even donors, our landlords. Even parents are being told to report their own children.
Landlords are being told that they’re abetting homosexuals, they’re also going to face prison sentences. So it’s a very, very harsh and problematic act and we don’t know what’s next but we are not giving up. Every day, we are meeting. Every day, we are sitting back and seeing how we are going to fight this bill this time because we managed to fight it last time and we won the case on a technicality but now we are also going back to check the loopholes in this new one and see how do we fight it this time so that we put an end to these bills because we don’t want to fight this one again and we win and then another one keeps coming. We need a permanent solution to this case so that we stop going. We’ve made strides over the last 10 years since the last bill was nullified and now 10 years later, we are back on the same drawing board. We want to put a permanent stop to this and this is what every day we are discussing since the bill was passed.
Maximillian Alvarez: I want to just focus on a point that you made a second ago because I think it’s very instructive for what we’re dealing with here in the US and anyone who is living somewhere where this kind of dark, reactionary, and genocidal politics is taking shape. You have fiercely condemned this bill and this growing hysteria around homosexuality as not only a horrific violation of human rights, which it is, but a weapon that is being cynically used by politicians and the powerful to distract from the many other problems poor and working people in Uganda are facing right now. I was wondering if we could talk about that for a sec and if you could give viewers and listeners outside of Uganda a sense of how much this anti-LGBTI crusade is dominating politics in Uganda, who’s driving that crusade, and what it tells us about the state of politics within Uganda writ large.
Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera: Yes, that every movement has invisible players and not all of us can be on the front line. And also this bill in Uganda has invisible power. And that invisible power we know is connected to the Family. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the Family, the Breakfast in America, which has also roots in Uganda and unfortunately, the roots start from the first family and this is the president and the wife in Uganda. So these are also big players. Museveni has been in power for over 37 years and he still wants to continue to be in power. So right now he needs whatever it takes to stay in power and he needs their votes, the popular vote from Ugandans. And so what better way to please the masses than to bring whatever they ask for? And who to pay the price? A minority group, already a marginalized group.
And we’ve seen, since the bill passed, so many politicians have been celebrating and talking on television and media and telling how they’ve represented their constituencies. But they did not go back to their constituencies to talk to them before passing the bill, that this bill will actually not only affect homosexuals. And this is one thing that many Ugandans do not know, even politicians themselves. Many passed this bill without even reading it. Many members of parliament passed this bill without reading it. They do not know that this bill is also going to affect them because their opponents can easily say that, “I suspect So-and-so to be a homosexual.” And by the time the investigations are done, the damage has already finished. So members of parliament are forgetting that this bill, as much as they’re calling it the anti-homosexuality bill, this bill is affecting all Ugandans because they’re talking about children, they’re talking about parents, they’re talking about those in authority.
For example, in churches, people who go to confess, that means your church leader has the duty to report that, “I got a confession from someone who has same sex attractions.” Health service providers, for you to be able to get proper health services, you have to be honest about your sexual… For example, HIV and AIDS, you need to be honest about your sexual practices. And now people are going to fear to go back and say, “I’m having sexual relations with multiple men,” when they’re men themselves. And so they’re going to lie. And people are forgetting that because of the environment, we have so many LGBT people that are married, who are living double lives for the sake of saving their dignity in society. But the politicians forget and forgot to go back before passing this bill to tell their constituencies that, “You want me to vote for this bill, but this bill is also going to affect you.”
So we have a dilemma that there’s going to be a lot of blackmail with this bill. There’s going to be a lot of intimidation with this bill. There’s going to be a lot of extortion. And we’ve already seen extortion taking the playing field already as soon as the bill passed. People were receiving messages that, “If you do not give me such and such an amount of money, I’m going to report you to the authorities.” And this is just the beginning. This is just the beginning. So we are about to go back into elections and even in the past, it has been used that if you stand up and support homosexuality, you lose the popular votes. We’ve seen one of the members of parliament, the only one who stood up and defended and was against the bill actually, he came up with a minority report and read it in parliament.
He lost in 2016 because in 2014 he had stood with us to go to the constitutional court to petition the bill then. And he lost when he went back for elections because the constituents said that he supported homosexuality, but he bounced back in 2020. But now we are going to see the same thing playing in the next two years. So people are playing cat and mouse game using the card of homosexuality. We’ve seen the young opposition leader, Bobi Wine, where the ruling party has come out, the state has come out and said that he’s being supported by homosexuals to run his campaigns. So politicians were so happy and celebrating in passing this law, but they’re forgetting that this law is actually going to also harm them in the long run. All Ugandans should be worried about this bill because your enemies can use this bill, your business rivals can use this bill to attack you.
So that’s the issue. We are not given a platform in Uganda to create awareness. When I go out on TV, it’s called promotion of homosexuality. But when anti-gay proponents go on TV, they’re given all the platform to create all this fear, all this panic, and the tensions. And that is a very big issue. And that’s why I started my organization, the Media House, so that we could be able to create mind change, to change the mindsets of Ugandans, to understand where this fear of homosexuality is coming from, and then to understand that whatever you’re doing, you could be talking about your own sister, you could be talking about your own daughter because you do not know how many people are LGBT. Not everyone is out in the open like Kasha. So many people are in the movement today and not many people know about them, but most of them are now… Those who have had already come out, because of fear, are going back into the closet.
We have people already on buses crossing over to neighboring countries because of fear of what is going to happen to them. And even neighboring countries are not better off, but because at least there are refugee camps and all this, they’re going to hide. But even in the refugee camps, you are getting reports that other refugees are now attacking Ugandans who are in the refugee camps because they think, “Why would Ugandans be running to refugee camp unless they are homosexuals? Because there’s no war in Uganda, why would Ugandans run to a refugee camp?”
So even if you run to a refugee camp for political issues for different reasons, the moment you reach a refugee camp, everyone suspects you to be gay. So now they’re attacking just any Ugandan in refugee camps in Kenya. So it has caused a lot of problems and the problems are just starting. That is the biggest fear. We are going to see so many cases. In just a period of two weeks, we’ve seen eight arrests, eight arrests in just a period of two weeks since the bill started coming up and it’s going to be introduced. So everyone is living in fear, everyone is living in fear.
Maximillian Alvarez: My God. I mean this is really horrifying and I know I’ve got to let you go in a second, but with the time remaining, I just had two other questions I wanted to sneak in here, right? Because I know how valuable your time is and I know you got to get running, but I wanted to really stress this point, which we talked about a bit in the beginning because it’s not just that we in the United States can hear terrifying echoes in Uganda of what Republicans and the right are doing here in the US, vilifying queer and trans people and increasing these genocidal attacks as a way to build political support but we also have a direct connection to this story, as you noted, especially when it comes to the influence of the evangelical church and the export of religious extremism, homophobia, and transphobia. So can we talk about these and other outside influences for a sec and the roles that they are playing in driving this anti-gay panic and the draconian crackdowns on people’s rights in Uganda?
Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera: Yes, they come as missionaries and because Uganda is a very poor country, we need all the kind of support and resources, but they come with their kindness with ties. “We are going to build you schools on condition. We are going to bore holes to be able to bring water to this village on condition. We are going to build a church on condition with this.” And so people grow up with this mentality that these missionaries, these church people who are coming… Remember Uganda is a very religious country, very, very religious country. Everything is about, “The Bible says this.” And this Bible was imported to Uganda and even the people who are now bringing back all this homophobic extremism and all this, these are also religious people, Christian Evangelicals, who are doing this. So we’ve seen that so many churches have are popped up in different parts of the country.
We’ve seen so many missionaries coming to Uganda from, of course, North America, especially Americans. But let’s also not forget that even the Canadians are playing a very big part, but we know how conservative Canadians are and they’re shy people, so they’re taking a backseat and leaving the Americans, the arrogant Americans to take the driving wheel, while for them, they’re investing a lot of money. But let’s not forget that even Canadians are a big part of this importation. And so we’ve seen that when you’re trying to discuss with a layman on the streets in Uganda, “Why do you hate homosexual so much?” They’ll simply tell you one thing. “Because my class teacher told me the Bible says this. In church when I go, they say, “The Bible says this.”” So they come with the guise of helping bring up these schools but on condition, the only religious thing you have to teach is Christianity and how powerful or moral it is. It’s superior than any other belief.
And we’ve seen even religious leaders who have come out openly to counteract that argument have been excommunicated from the Church of Uganda because they’ve stood up openly to say that, “The Bible does not say this. You are being selective in reading the Bible. The Bible says love one another.” But when they come out to do that, the Church of Uganda excommunicates them from church because they believe now… The funny thing is they say that homosexuality is an import of the West and they’re saying, “Kasha, do not come back to the country we are going to crucify you. Stay in the West with your importation.” But even the religion they’re using to crucify me is also imported. So they’re confused. They have selective memories. They choose what to take with them. They’re talking about African values. No one, even the oldest African, since time immemorial, can not explicitly tell you that, “This is an African value,” because Africa is the most diverse continent in the world.
Just in my country we have over a hundred languages, over 54 ethnic tribes. So which value am I going to…? Which value are they talking about, for example, in Uganda? Members of parliament themselves, the reason why we have the biggest number of parliamentarians in the whole world is because almost every ethnic region wants a representative in the parliament of Uganda. So which of all those is the African value among all the 519 members of parliament? So you wonder, when someone says that, “We have to protect our values,” that’s African values, what is African? You’re saying that I’m being paid to be a lesbian, to be a homosexual so you do not want the Western import. I should stay wherever I am. If I go back, I’m going to be crucified. But then you are using also the Bible about Adam and Eve and the Bible has never been African at all.
Everyone knows that the Bible’s never been African, and this is why they refuse us to go out in the open to discuss such things because themselves, they’re confused about exactly why they’re bringing up all these harsh laws. But we know exactly that they need the money, they need the resources, and if these resources are something that they grew up on Sunday school being told that this is wrong in the Bible and all this, they should just go with it. And this is what we get every Sunday, every Sunday. I stopped going to church in Uganda because I don’t know if it was just bad luck, but every time I went to church, the topic was about homosexuality, every time I went to church. So I said, “Why should I keep going to a place where I’m not wanted?” So I’ve been having a good time since I came here a few months ago because I’ve managed to go to church that is inclusive.
I grew up in a church. I’m a believer, I’m a Christian. I grew up in a church. I used to love going to Sunday school. I used to get a new dress every time I went to church and I stopped going to church when I grew up because apparently the church I went to when I was young has completely changed. The scriptures that are being preached in church today are not what I grew up knowing. And this has been cemented by the extreme evangelicals. Scott Lively is one of the crusaders that we even took to court here in Massachusetts in Springfield. We took him to court under the Alien Tort Statute that if an American citizen commits a crime outside of America can actually be held accountable in the courts of America. And that’s what we did because he was a big player in bringing up the gay bill in Uganda 10 years ago.
And so we know there are many who are still coming up. Scott Lively cannot, I think, step in Uganda anymore, but he’s not alone. He has a crusade. He has a crusade that he has been working with, and these are the new ones that have been coming up. We have the Family Network that is very connected to the Family here in the US. The Prayer Breakfast, that even now Uganda has the Prayer Breakfast beginning of the year and all this. And so those are the invisible players that I’m talking about. Our first lady is part of the Family Prayer Breakfast and all this, and we know that these members of parliament are just the face of the anti-gay movement, but they have bigger players, the invisible players that are actually part of a bigger conspiracy to this.
Maximillian Alvarez: Yeah. No, I think that’s well put. And Kasha, we’ve only got a minute left and I know I’ve got to let you go, but I just wanted to ask by way of rounding out, first, I wanted to send you our love and solidarity, and I know that you’re heading into really dark waters over there and that folks back in Uganda are really facing a crisis and we want to stand in solidarity with y’all however we can. I just wanted to end on that note by asking what folks watching and listening can do to stand in solidarity with you and LGBTI people in Uganda?
Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera: Yes, thank you, Max. We need all the kind of support we can get. First, we need the moral support. If you can just write a letter or call someone in Uganda just to check on them, not only because you want an interview from them, that can put a smile on someone, knowing that people out there care. We also need a lot of technical support, especially with the promotion of homosexuality. Most of our work that has been online is going to stop. So if we can be able to get people who are good in IT who can help us protect our websites where we’ve been sharing our information and services and all this, to help us protect that kind of works, that it can continue even when this bill becomes law, that would be very helpful. Even financial resources, because many people are going to end up on the streets because landlords are going to throw out people and people are going to need safe spaces to stay in.
So even financial support is needed. We are going to court. Definitely we are going to court because we are not going to back out and going to court is going to need resources. So all kinds of financial resources are needed. But also call on your governments. Call on your governments because Uganda depends on international aid. This is your taxes that I’m talking about. Call on your governments to hold them accountable. When they give aid to Uganda, let them put strings to aid to say that this aid should not be discriminatory. This aid should be for all Ugandans if it’s going to Ugandans. Call on your representatives in your constituencies, tell them to call on their bilateral governments to continue to engage with our government. Sign our petitions when you see them going around, share them with your people. Spread the message so that people can know what is really happening in Uganda. Other than that, I just want to thank you for giving me a platform to share what is happening back home. And I hope that the next time we talk, I’ll be telling you how we won the court case.
Maximillian Alvarez: I hope that too. Please stay safe, Kasha, and thank you so much for joining us today on The Real News Network.
Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera: Thank you too.
Maximillian Alvarez: That was the great Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera calling in from Massachusetts. Kasha is an internationally renowned Ugandan LGBTI activist, a founder of the LGBTI movement in Uganda, and the founder of Freedom & Roam Uganda, a prominent human rights organization that addresses discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people in Uganda. She opened Uganda’s first gay bar and organized the country’s first Pride parade. She’s the first LGBTI rights activist to be awarded the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. And in 2015, she won the Right Livelihood Award for her courage and persistence, despite violence and intimidation, in working for the right of LGBTI people to have a life free from prejudice and persecution. For the Real News Network, this is Maximilian Alvarez signing off.
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