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It is time for UBUNTU

Uganda feminists are deeply concerned that the passing of the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023 by the Parliament on 21st March 2023 is contrary to everything we have fought for to ensure our collective communities’ safety, security and development. 

The Bill that was debated and passed on 21 of March 2023, is a mockery of our values as a people, a community and a nation. And as the Uganda Feminist Forum, we stand by our community-centric ethos of UBUNTU! 

UBUNTU is part of our communal practice and the fabric of our lives. We understand that we need each other to be human, and humanity includes everyone, regardless of one’s ethnicity, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, HIV status, profession, religious affiliation, or political association etc. We are all human beings and members of our communities. Even though we represent many cultures and traditions. At the core is that we resolve disagreements amicably and find the right balance between individuals and communities. 

Whereas the Anti Homosexuality Bill was primed as seeking to ‘preserve the traditional family unit’, hailed as a ‘natural structure’ of Ugandan familial identity, Africa’s and specifically Uganda’s traditional family unit as it currently stands is not restricted to the colonial aspirations of the nuclear family. In addition, we have learned and continue to learn that public and private spaces are unsafe for our children, not because of homosexuality but because the most recent evidence from the Uganda police crime reports indicates that the crisis of sexual crimes in Uganda are primarily of a heterosexual nature of men preying on young girls. In 2022, there were 12,780 cases of defilement reported, of the reported cases, 12,470 were female and 310 were male. And the report also showed that only 83 cases were related to unnatural offenses with no convictions. 

And the solutions now put forth by the parliament and the bill are false solutions; they simply reinforce continued discrimination against citizens of Uganda based on sexual orientation. This Bill seeks to criminalize all those who continue to practice Ubuntu by being a good family member, a friend, a neighbor, a colleague or a fellow citizen. Instead of protecting the community, it will tear us apart and make us less safe. 

Additionally, the disinformation surrounding homosexuality in Uganda and the rushed process of passing the bill has put our community members at risk of losing lives and livelihoods. Minority groups are under extreme surveillance abetted by a majority ideological prejudicial and discriminatory attitude towards them. As the Uganda Feminist Forum, we witnessed the impact of the 2009 bill and the devastation it wrought across the nation. We lost family members and friends, and many had to leave their homes.

Certainly, this new bill is a huge blow to the spirit of Ubuntu in our country. A country where minority rights are denied and under threat has effectively decreed the slow destruction of the entire nation. 

We, therefore, call on: 

  1. The Presidency to respect and recognize the rights of all Ugandans by not assenting to an extremely harmful bill. 
  2. The police, ministries and parliament to effectively executive their mandate, especially the provision of resources to guarantee justice for victims and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence without exceptions. 
  3. Religious leaders to reflectively interrogate whether they are purveyors of love or hate in our communities. 
  4. Regional and International communities to hold the Uganda government accountable and show solidarity with the LGBTIQ+ persons in Uganda. 
  5. All Ugandans to reflect on the implications of such a bill on their rights and freedoms, given the wide-ranging provisions that can be used against anyone who raises governance questions in the country. A law that criminalizes a section of society, it is only a matter of time that it will be applied against us all. 

It is indeed the time to stand for Ubuntu and Solidarity.