On Wednesday 7 May, around 50 LGBT campaigners organised a protest at the President of Uganda’s visit to the UK. President Yoweri Museveni was being welcomed by government officials as part of a Ugandan business forum, and was giving a speech near Westminster.
A number of groups, including Out and Proud Diamond, an African LGBTI group, Stop AIDS, and the Peter Tatchell Foundation were present for the protest. Unions also sent delegations, most visibly the RMT.
The protestors made sure that the whole speech was interrupted with drums, vuvuzelas, and loud chanting. Protestors demanded the repeal of the infamous Anti-Homosexuality Act, signed by Museveni in February, which made any same-sex sexual activity, even just kissing, an imprisonable offence with a maximum life sentence.
The bill’s sponsor, David Bahati, said the law was necessary to protect schoolchildren from being “recruited into homosexuality”. Only through the work of African LGBT groups and global protests was the bill amended to remove the use of the death penalty. It is now also illegal to fail to report LGBT people to the police, and Ugandan LGBT people can be extradited and prosecuted for engaging in same-sex sexual activity overseas. Museveni himself has said that gay people are “disgusting”.
It is still illegal to be gay in 78 countries. We must continue protests like this one, until every single comrade is released from jail.