What It’s Like To Be Gay In Uganda

by Dish Staff

Brandon Ambrosino interviews Nicholas Opiyo, a Ugandan attorney who helped overturn the country’s infamous anti-gay law. He describes the harassment Ugandan gays face:

You’re not going to see public flogging of gay people in the streets. That would be a rarity, and even if it occurs, because of the nature of our media, it’s not going to get reported widely. What, however, happens is persistent, consistent, daily discrimination of the smallest nature possible. The shopkeeper at the kiosk next to your house, the boda boda guy, they keep heckling at you. People keep telling your family and brothers about you. They tell your family they will not come to your burials. People sneering at you, saying negative things to you. People pointing at your back: you cannot go to public places without being pointed at.

There is also the blackmail and extortion by police and security forces.

If the police know that somebody is gay, they will deliberately frame a charge against you, arrest you, and give you a police bond. A police bond is temporary freedom while your case is being investigated. If they know you are gay, they keep extorting money from you in exchange for your freedom. They say, “Oh, we’ve got evidence against you. We’re going to take you to court, so give us money.”

That is what kills the spirits, the hearts, the minds of gay people in Uganda. The insane discrimination. The insane segregation, and the sense of exclusion that happens every single day in every single place for gay men and lesbian women in Uganda. Just going to the hospital and getting treatment. Going to buy lubricant — you might not even find a place to buy lubricant, to buy condoms. If you have a particular problem, you may never get treatment because of the fear that people are going to keep pointing at you [points], “That one. That one!”

That is what is killing gay people in our country.