Culture

These are the faces of gay pride in Uganda

Gay pride lead image

 

About 100 people marched in Saturday’s gay pride parade, held at a secluded beach near Lake Victoria in Uganda. Homosexuality is still illegal in Uganda and punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Credit:

Katie Nelson

The Ugandan LGBTI community celebrated their annual Pride Uganda festival last week. Because Ugandan law criminalizes homosexuality, participants met at private or secluded venues over a five-day period. 

A pageant contestant poses for a photo at Friday’s Mr. and Miss Pride contest in Kampala, Uganda. 

Credit:

Katie Nelson

More than a dozen contestants from the Ugandan LGBTI community competed for the title of Mr. or Miss Pride in a contest held at a local bar, hotel and massage parlor in the nation’s capital of Kampala. 

Gay pride participant "Badru" said his landlord cut him with a machete after finding out he was gay. He then evicted him. 

Credit:

Katie Nelson

“Today is rights day, but I don’t know why I should be celebrating,” Badru (above) says. “Pride is meaningless to me.” He's now homeless, jobless and desperate, he says, after being evicted from his home when his landlord discovered he's gay. Badru says it's hard to get a job despite his college degree: People won’t hire him because of his sexual orientation and sometimes he’s forced to resort to sex work in order to survive. 

Someone attacked him after learning about his sexual orientation. “He cut me with a panga (machete),” Badru says of the wound on his forearm. 

“My dream and my hope is to have a better life,” he says. “But every dream of mine is shattered.”

Some members of the Ugandan LGBTI community wore masks to conceal their identities at Saturday’s gay pride parade. Gay and transgendered Ugandans frequently face violence and discrimination due to their sexual orientation and are often unable to find — or afford — legal assistance.

Credit:

Katie Nelson

The first Pride Uganda celebration was in 2012; the following year the Ugandan Parliament passed the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which punished same-sex relationships with life imprisonment. That law was later ruled invalid based on a minor voting technicality. But same-sex relationships are still illegal in Uganda and are punishable by up to 14 years in prison. 

A contestant competes for the title of Miss Pride 2015 in Kampala.

Credit:

Katie Nelson

Hundreds of local spectators attended Friday’s Mr. and Miss Pride competition. Teetering atop a wobbly red-carpet runway, more than a dozen contestants from the Ugandan LGBTI community showcased their dance and lip-syncing talents. 

When asked why she wanted to become Miss Pride Uganda, a contestant named Arianna said, “I want to come out as a trans woman so they stop discriminating against us. I want to come out to show everyone that trans people are people.”

Pride Uganda coordinators Apako Williams and Jay Mulucha pose alongside Mr. Pride 2015 on the beaches of Lake Victoria in Uganda.

Credit:

Katie Nelson

Pride Uganda coordinator Jay Mulucha attended the first Pride Festival in 2012. Today, he and coordinator Apako Williams say that Ugandans are more accepting of the LGBTI community than in the past, thanks in part to the legalization of same-sex marriage in other countries.  

“It all starts from somewhere. I believe a time will come when Uganda will legalize it too,” Mulucha said.

“Things are shifting. I see the future is bright,” Williams added.

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