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Jailed For Being Gay In Uganda

KAMPALA – Uganda ranks among the most restrictive countries in the world when it comes to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. Not only do the laws restrict and punish sexual minorities, but also the general opinion is against them – a 2007 survey found that 96 percent of Ugandans thought of homosexuality as an unacceptable way of life. Still, human rights groups estimate that there are at least 500,000 gay people living in Uganda.

The laws prohibiting homosexual activity date back to the British colonial rule in the 19th century. Yet, whereas elsewhere in the world such laws have been abolished in recent decades, in Uganda they have only become stricter and more punitive. In 2009, The Anti Homosexuality Act was introduced in the Ugandan Parliament that sought to broaden the criminalization of same-sex relationships in Uganda, including death penalties for serial offenders. In the same year, Ugandan newspapers published tips on how to identify gays and a list of the 100 "top" gays and lesbians with their photos and addresses.

To fight the oppression, the LGBT community had founded the organization Sexual Minorities Uganda in 2004. One of its founding members, David Kato, was on the forefront of opposing the new bill and working for the rights of the LGBT people, leaving his job as a school teacher in order to fully commit himself to the cause. In 2011, he was brutally bludgeoned to death with a hammer in his home.

An outspoken documentary about this important struggle for equal human rights in Uganda, CALL ME KUCHU, won the "International Human Rights Film Award" at Cinema for Peace Berlin 2013. The award was presented by Bill Browder to the directors Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhall-Worrall as well as to Frank Mugisha, the Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda and the late founder of the organization, David Kato.

The award was presented by Bill Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital Management and a human rights activist: "David was brutally murdered during the making of this film. His legacy will, however, continue to inspire the future generations of human rights activists, especially through tonight’s winning film."

We invite you to watch the following films on the topic of LGBT rights and Uganda:

  • CALL ME KUCHU by Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhall-Worrall, winner of the "International Human Rights Film Award 2013", is a story about the struggle against persecution of homosexuals in Uganda. A new bill threatens to make homosexuality punishable by death. David Kato - Uganda's first openly gay man - and his fellow activists work against the clock to defeat the legislation while combating vicious persecution in their daily lives. But no one, not even the filmmakers, are prepared for the brutal murder that shakes the movement to its core and sends shock waves around the world.
  • MILK by Gus Van Sant, winner of the "Cinema for Peace Most Valuable Movie of the Year 2009" award, tells the story of Harvey Milk and his struggles as an American gay activist who fought for gay rights and became California's first openly gay elected official.
  • PHILADELPHIA by Jonathan Demme. When a man with AIDS is fired by a conservative law firm because of his condition, he hires a homophobic small time lawyer as the only willing advocate for a wrongful dismissal suit.




"Call Me Kuchu" by Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhail-Worrall, International Human Rights Film Award 2013

"Milk" by Gus Van Sant, Cinema for Peace Most Valuable Movie of the Year 2009


"Philadelphia" by Jonathan Demme