A human rights group in Uganda has reported a disturbing surge in queerphobic violence and discrimination against the LGBTQ community, accentuated by the alarming spread of abuse videos on social media platforms.
The trend is escalating, with videos depicting the beating and humiliation of individuals based on their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity being widely shared, garnering millions of views.
In one distressing TikTok video, an alleged gay man is subjected to undressing, assault, and hair-pulling, accompanied by a perpetrator declaring, “We don’t want gay people, Museveni signed the bill. No homosexuality in Uganda. We are going to post you on every social media.”
Urgent Plea for Restraint
Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, an advocate for Ugandan LGBTIQ+ rights, urgently appealed to individuals to refrain from sharing these disturbing videos on social media.
“This leads to continuous attacks on their lives even when relocated to ‘safer’ places. Many are having recurring trauma. We are trying to get these videos completely removed from [the] internet for their safety,” she said on X.
The Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) recently released its fifth monthly report on human rights violations against LGBTQ individuals in Uganda since the enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act.
The report, covering October 2023, reveals a considerable increase in cases, with HRAPF handling a total of 83 incidents, up from 68 in September and 71 in August.
Disturbing Patterns of Abuse
Of the cases documented, 28 involved violence or threats of violence, 27 were related to property evictions, 6 were arrests for sexuality-related reasons, and 3 were instances of extortion. A total of 85 individuals were affected, often facing aggression from neighbors and community members.
In one instance, two victims were set upon and beaten by a group of men when they were walking home at night. They were accused of trying to spoil the children in the neighbourhood with their “homosexual habits”.
Another victim, a transgender woman, was attacked late at night by two men who forced themselves into her house and raped her. They then called on the neighbours to wake up and “see a homosexual”.
HRAPF attributes the increase in cases to “homophobia-driven incidents directly linked to the enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act.”
The Anti-Homosexuality Act imposes severe penalties, including life imprisonment for engaging in a homosexual sexual act, the death penalty for aggravated homosexuality (such as repeated offenses), and a 20-year prison term for “promoting” or advocating for LGBTIQ+ rights.
Minors convicted of engaging in a homosexual sexual act face three years in prison, and anyone providing accommodation for an LGBTIQ+ person can be jailed for up to seven years.