No matter the outcome, their lives will forever be tarnished, at least in Uganda. However with their faces splashed across world press, many may come to regard them as martyrs, a symbol for the oppressed gays of Uganda and the unjust criminalization of human sexuality, as persecuted by Institutionalized homophobia. That is the markings of the first case being tried in Uganda after the passage of the new Anti-Homosexuality Act. The men are however being tried under the old Penal Code.
A Ugandan court has started hearing the case against the two men accused of engaging in same- sex relations, though under an old penal code, this is the first trial of homosexuals in the country since the severe Anti-Homosexuality Act was passed in December, 2013, signed on February 24th and Gazetted March 10th.
The detained Ugandans, Kim Mukisa, 24, and Jackson Mukasa, 19, appeared before a magistrate’s court in the capital, Kampala, on Wednesday, to apply for bail, after prosecutors said they had enough evidence to proceed with the case, no. 0085 of 2014. Jackson has been released on bail, but unfortunately Kim was returned to prison pending a postponement of the case.
Police arrested the couple on January 27th and 28th, as they fled an angry mob.
The arrest occurred before the new law was in effect and so the men are not charged under the new Act, but rather under the old penal code:
Kim was charged with ‘having carnal knowledge of a person against the order of nature’ contrary to Section 145(a) of the Penal Code Act Cap 120 and Jackson was charged with ‘permitting a male person to have carnal knowledge against the order of nature’ contrary to Section 145(c) of the Penal Code Act Cap 120.
Prosecutors have apparently lined up several witnesses to testify against the two.
All is ready on the side of the lawyers for the accused, ready to to cross examine the state witnesses and if strategically appropriate to challenge the constitutionality of the Penal Code Provisions by way of a Reference to the Constitutional Court.
If the Prosecution really proceeds, this will be the first case to reach the trial stage in the recent history of Section 145 of the Penal Code for consensual same sex relations, for all the others have ended up in dismissal for want of prosecution or have remained pending.
The court sessions will be at Buganda Road Chief Magistrates Court before Chief Magistrate. Her Worship Olive Kazaarwe Mukwaya, shall be presiding
Although Uganda has had anti-gay legislation since the colonial era, President Yoweri Museveni enacted the new law that increases criminal penalties against LGBTI people caught having same-sex relations and anyone “promoting” homosexuality with sentences ranging up to life in jail.
Many Ugandans who have been outed by press and others perceived as gay have gone into hiding or fled the country.
In signing the bill, Museveni claimed he wanted to deter western groups from promoting homosexuality in Uganda.
Some western countries have since withheld or cut aid to the country in protest, urging legislators to repeal the law.
Local human rights defenders are warning the LGBTI community to take security precautions “Media is expected to be present at the trial and so those who want to attend the trial must be aware of the security implications of appearing in the media.”
Perhaps that warning in and of itself – renders such trials unconstitutional – where a targeted community, a minority, cannot attend a trial safely, as defenders, witnesses and supporters of the accused. The LGBTI community and supporters are in great danger at the hands of mobs, press and the witch hunts conducted by police, with tacit approval of the very government that has institutionalized the new laws which now serve to impede their rights to attend such a trial with great risk their own security.
Please note:- I am usually reluctant to display pictures of accused LGBTI people – however in this instance these pictures have already gone worldwide and in displaying these pictures here it is my hope that the International community will embrace these beautiful people as symbols for a cause – to decriminalize human sexuality – that is getting way too little international attention.
No job, no community, no home, no money… this campaign will provide direct help for food and shelter.
Ugandan lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people are living in exile in their own country, as a direct result of:
1. The Anti-Homosexuality Act, effective in March 2014, criminalizes same sex relations, imposing sentences of 14 years to life in prison. It outlaws so called “promotion” of homosexuality – which has already shut down major HIV/AIDS medical clinics;
2. The public outings of LGBTI Ugandans in the Ugandan Tabloids, and police parading of LGBTI people in public, effectively call for lynchings, witch hunts and mob vengeance;
3. A major public march of 10,000 people was led and supported by Ugandan Church leaders, soldiers and police in uniform; even the President of Uganda was there to praise the new law which institutionalizes the persecution of LGBTI Ugandans.;
4. Mothers, fathers, siblings, friends, neighbors and village elders banishing LGBTI Ugandans from their villages, landlords evicting them, employers firing them, universities and schools revoking scholarships and expelling students, threats and assaults, arrests and more….
These are modern day Ann Franks and it is happening on our watch – did we say “never again”? DONATIONS CAN BE MADE HERE .
MELANIE NATHAN is an attorney, mediator, equality activist, and human rights advocate. Born in South Africa, Nathan received her law degree from the University of Witwaterstrand. She used her training to assist African workers living under apartheid in the 1980s. After immigrating to the U.S., she founded Private Courts, Inc., a mediation and human rights advocacy firm in Marin County, California.
Melanie Nathan has been involved in numerous struggles affecting LGBTI people in the USA and abroad. From testifying at Senate hearings on the Uniting American Families Act, to advocating for the release of an undocumented lesbian partner from detention, Nathan has touched both individual lives and influenced policy affecting thousands.
Nathan is a prolific blogger and journalist who uses her writing as a platform for her advocacy work. In addition to reporting on issues impacting LGBTI communities around the world, she writes with a focus on the USA and Africa., Her blog, O-Blog-Dee-O-Blog-Da, serves as a platform for Nathan and her guests to highlight their work in a world where gay, lesbian, transgender, queer, intersex, and gender-free people are the subjects of persecution and discrimination.
Nathan is Co-Producer of Gay U.S.A. the Movie, by filmaker Kristina Lapinski, a documentary debunking the myths that impact gay rights. In response to the urgent situation in Uganda, Nathan has launched a campaign to shelter and feed LGBTI people in hiding and exile at LGBT-Africa Rescue Fund.