“I’ve been attacked by homophobes” was the shocking Facebook message from H, a young gay Ugandan man as he lay hospitalised on a bed.
H’s friends urgently contacted the local LGBT security team for help, as they were concerned for H’s safety when he returned home, and worried about his medical bills. The security team promised assistance, but for reasons unknown the assistance never came. H and his friends felt incredibly let down.
Outcasts of society since the passing of the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Act 2014, many LGBT people are forced to live in the worse inner-city slum districts and struggle to just survive. They are frequently denied employment and forced to move regularly from unsafe accommodation to avoid attack by neighbours. Many are living with HIV and struggle to access and afford medication.
Very upset and angry, H wrote: “I hear everyone everywhere talking about Pride, but me myself, I think there is no need of informing people like us, not the grassroots. All you did nothing to help people on the grassroots yet you knew the situation and problems. Am sorry but I feel so disappointed.
“Just recently I was beaten up by homophobes, but it’s weird and regrettable, because huh, even security team did nothing to help me anymore in the situation I was, and in the situation I am. We are suffering here with no proper medication, no food, no shelters, others they chased us from home and we ended up on the streets, fuck! And now you're talking about pride. Your money never reaches us here in the slums, nothing we gain. Stop being selfishness.”
The homophobic attack on H spurred LGBT rights activist Frank Kamya of the Youth on Rock Foundation to organise a gathering of the local “Kuchu” (slang LGBT) to promote togetherness among the LGBT community living on the frontline in the slum districts of Kampala.
On 28 June, as Pride was taking place across the world, almost 100 “Kuchu” came together on a beach on the banks of Lake Victoria to celebrate LGBT solidarity. The event was entitled “Kuchuz Day Out” and Frank Kamya explained the importance of the event:
• To promote togetherness among the grassroots LGBTIQ community.
• To learn from each other how best to live in Uganda despite the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act.
• To attract a strong group of volunteer activists who can continue supporting LGBTIQ individuals and advocating for their rights.
• To brainstorm on how to strengthen personal security and safety as an LGBTIQ community.
• To interact on the beach with the heterosexual community, to try to understand their current perceptions, and to provide a model for how the wider community and LGBTIQ persons can live harmoniously together.
• To raise self-esteem among LGBTIQ people by sharing testimonies and personal stories.
Frank Kamya said afterwards. “It was a day of fun and a sign of togetherness, solidarity, organising, networking, re-energising, and thinking beyond what we go through living in an anti-gay country.”