|The protestors outside the Ugandan High Commission in Nairobi. [PHOTO: TABITHA OTUORI/STANDARD]
BY MAUREEN ABWAO
NAIROBI, KENYA: The gay and lesbian community in Kenya Monday came out to plead with the Ugandan Government not to assent to a bill that criminalizes homosexuality acts in Uganda.
Draping the rainbow colours commonly associated with gays and lesbians, the protestors staged peaceful demonstrations outside the Ugandan High Commission offices after they failed to get audience with the Ugandan Higher Commissioner to hand a letter petitioning against Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill.
Addressing the media outside the commission’s offices, the protestors termed the bill as draconian, stating that the effects of the bill were already being felt at entry points to Uganda as most gays and lesbians were being denied entry into the country.
The Uganda Anti –Homosexuality bill commonly referred to as ‘Kill the gays bill’ due to its originally proposed death penalty that was dropped in favour of life imprisonment is already in the Ugandan parliament and is awaiting presidential assent this week to become law.
Mary Muthui, who said she is a lesbian and member of Tushauriane Initiative Kenya, a gay and lesbian movement, cautioned Ugandan government officials not to advocate for the anti-homosexuals bill as members of their own families could be homosexual; something she termed not out of choice.
“I did not wake up one morning and made a choice to be a lesbian, as the risks and consequences are so many, but we as gays and lesbians have to live with it” said Mary.
“We have come out in solidarity with our Ugandan counterparts to ask President Yoweri Museveni not to enact the bill as the effects of the bill have already made some of the gays and lesbians from Uganda to seek asylum in Kenya as their lives are in danger” said Eric Gitari who is the Director, National Gays and Lesbians Human Rights Commission in Kenya.
The petition had sought to have President Museveni not sign the bill on grounds that it contravenes Uganda’s law on privacy.
It also reminded President Museveni not to ‘betray’ the history of Uganda as gays and lesbians have lived in the country since time immemorial.
“The law will also affect gay people traveling to Uganda as a travel ban is to be issued to this effect, this will not go well with the spirit of East African Unity as it will affect Uganda’s relations to her neighbours,” said Gitari, also a lawyer for the movement.
“Laws are meant to protect people and not to violate their rights, as gay rights are also human rights” said Gitari.
Rebutting allegations made by Museveni, that gay people are ‘sick’ and need psychiatric attention, Gitari asserted that gays and lesbians are normal people who should be accepted in the society as they did not need any rehabilitation.
Echoing similar sentiments, John Mathenge, a representative of Gay and Lesbian Commission in Kenya (GALACK) asked the President Uhuru Kenyatta to speak with his Uganda counterpart in order to have the bill withdrawn.
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