What Can We Do For Uganda’s Gays?

European countries and international institutions are cutting aid to Uganda over its new law criminalizing homosexuality:

Norway, Demark and the Netherlands, which collectively had provided $27 million in aid to Uganda, have announced that they are cutting aid to the Ugandan government. On Friday, the World Bank announced that it was putting on hold a $90 million loan to Uganda’s health service. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said that the State Department is reviewing its relationship with Uganda. The U.S. currently gives more that $486 million in bilateral aid. On Wednesday, the U.S. Ambassador to Kampala said that the U.S. would deny visas to Ugandans who “incite violence, people who propagate hate, (and) who have used political violence.”

But Jonathan Zasloff is concerned that heavy-handed condemnation could just strengthen the resolve of the homophobes in Uganda. He suggests an alternative response:

At this point, the administration’s best option is to order the US Embassy in Kampala to start processing LGBT Ugandans for humanitarian parole.

According to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, humanitarian parole can “bring someone who is otherwise inadmissible into the United States for a temporary period of time due to a compelling emergency.” USCIS may grant parole temporarily “to anyone applying for admission into the United States based on urgent humanitarian reasons or if there is a significant public benefit for a period of time that corresponds with the length of the emergency or humanitarian situation.” Humanitarian parole does not bring with it immigration status, although it is very rare for parolees to return their country of origin.

Scotland is looking to offer asylum:

Humza Yousaf, Minister For External Affairs, has written to UK Foreign Secretary William Hague detailing the Scottish Government’s gesture to welcome “any Ugandan” persecuted by the new laws. It comes on the back of … concern over the welcome being extended to countries with anti-gay laws during the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. With prominent members of the Ugandan government due in Glasgow this summer, the Scottish Government will also meet representatives of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) groups to discuss proposals on handling human rights issues during the event.

Meanwhile, the outing campaign proceeds apace in Ugandan tabloids, previously covered here:

Red Pepper‘s reign of terror has continued unabated all week, with some issues coming out as much asuganda-paper1 a full day earlier than usual, and each with more salacious stories reputedly “exposing” Uganda’s gay underground. Thursday’s Red Pepper included a cover story warning that “Homos go to court over anti-gay law.”  That same day, Red Pepper rushed out its Friday edition, which twisted earlier interviews and statements from Ugandan LGBT advocates and turned them into potentially violence-inciting anti-gay propaganda. The same issue also claimed to have stories of Ugandan celebrities “spill(ing) gay secrets.”

Saturday’s edition, which was out by 2:00 p.m. Friday, included a spread featuring photos, names and addresses of LGBT Ugandans were allegedly part of a “homo cabinet.” The same issue boasted another feature titled, “How to precent your child from becoming a homo.”

Alexis Okeowo checks on how rising anti-gay sentiment is playing out in other parts of Africa:

Homosexuality was already criminalized in Uganda, but the new law, which comes a month after similar anti-gay legislation was passed in Nigeria, is part of a rising tide of anti-gay sentiment in Africa. The intense popular vitriol being whipped up against gays, combined with the political calculations of the leaders of the countries enacting these laws, has turned homosexuality into one of the greatest supposed threats facing the continent: the root of all social, economic, and political ills.

At a time when gay-rights movements in Africa, some of which have been in existence for nearly a decade, should be making headway in the public discourse, their leaders are being forced to go underground again for fear of their lives. (In 2012, I wrote for the magazine about the Ugandan gay-rights movement, which had been winning court battles and participating in mainstream discussions on sexuality up until the new law was signed this week.) Other countries like Senegal and Kenya have started to enforce, or are pushing to enforce, long-ignored existing anti-gay laws. “I am so sad and worried about ordinary gay people,” the leading Ugandan gay activist, Frank Mugisha, told me this week. “And especially for my friends.”