Photo essay: Uganda presses on with its anti-homosexuality bill while the LGBT community fights back
Demonstrators support the anti-homosexuality bill outside the Ugandan parliament, November 2012.
Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) has taken over leadership of various LGBT campaigns from David Kato, who was brutally murdered in 2011.
David Bahati, the author of the anti-homosexuality bill, during a meeting of religious and political leaders in the Ugandan parliament, November 2012. Both Christian and Muslim leaders petitioned Rebecca Kadaga, the Speaker, to debate the bill again.
Stosh Mugisha, vilified and persecuted by the tabloids, tells chilling stories of rape and attempted suicide, but has found a new life as a prominent activist, somewhat protected by international media attention.
Red Pepper, the most salacious Ugandan tabloid, which has been 'outing' individuals since 2006, and suggesting they be hanged. A slavering tabloid press has been a potent influence on anti-gay sentiments in the country.
Martin Ssempa, a former breakdancing champion and born-again Pentecostal pastor who is probably the most flamboyantly anti-gay person in Ugandan public life. Along with other Church leaders he denounces homosexuality as 'un-African'.
Pepe Julian Onzeima, works for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and is a recipient of a Bill Clinton Global Citizen Award for his work. He says that many gay Ugandans would prefer to stay in the closet than take the risk of violence and open persecution that accompanies coming out.
A signpost shows the way to the Glory Church, Namulanda Village, Wakiso District. As elsewhere in Africa, Pentecostal Christianity is growing rapidy in Uganda, described by Graeme Wood as the 'most religiose' Christian country he has experienced. With the encouragement of visiting US pastors, the Ugandan Pentecostal churches have made a point of persecuting the gay community.
The rudimentary infrastructure of the Glory Church in Namulanda Village, Wakiso District, Uganda. Gay activists say that indigenous African religions were far more tolerant of diverse sexualities than imported monotheism.
Kasha Jacqueline, a lesbian who heads Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG), one of dozens of LGBT NGOs, has compared the anti-homosexuality bill to the Nuremberg Laws. Not all of her fellow activists agree: some say it does their cause a disservice to paint themselves as victims in fear of their lives.
John Abdallah Wambere aka Longjones accesorises Kuchu-style: 'his rainbow bracelets and pride jewellery rustled and clicked as he walked'.
Muslim leaders look on with some misgivings while Bishop David Kiganda, Pentecostal leader, and Pastor Martin Ssempa (r) call on God's help in their campaign to have the anti-homosexuality bill debated again in Parliament.
Pepe Julian Onzeima at the TUK (Talented Ugandan Kuchus) event at the National Theatre, Kampala, on November 7 2012. Kuchu is a slang word, much like 'queer' which has been adopted in an act of resistance by the LGBT community in Uganda.
John Abdallah Wambere, host of the Talented Ugandan Kuchus event, before the show begins.
Jacqueline Kasha (far right) dances on stage during the performance of Ugandan singer Grace Nakimera at the Talented Ugandan Kuchus event.
One of the numbers in the TUK performance tells of a young man, persecuted for the way he dresses, who finds companionship and liberation after his suffering.
Police guard the entrance to the National Theatre after closing down the TUK event. Other talent shows had gone unremarked by the police. Such crackdowns may or may not signal intensified repression to come.
Uncowed, John Abdallah Wambere aka Longjones, embraces Ugandan singer Cindy after her performance at the Talented Ugandan Kuchus event.
Aeon commissioned photographer Tadej Znidarcic to illustrate Graeme Wood's Outrageous Freedom essay on Ugandan gay rights. Znidarcic had unprecendented access to both sides of the conflict, photographing a gathering of the religious and political firebrands who continue to press for the anti-homosexuality bill to be passed in parliament, as well as the gay activists who campaign for freedom from persecution.
Published on 27 December 2012