Uganda branded worst in the world to be gay! Reply

We can often be our own worst enemies, that adage is absolutely true.

Take this article, circulated recently, that names the 10 worst countries in the world to be gay.

It lists the countries in the following ascending order: Malaysia, Trinidad & Tobago, Iran, Ethiopia, Guyana, United Arab Emirates, Mauritania, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, and …Uganda. The article is  complete with picturesque images of some of these places that would seem to be a contradiction of the message the writers sought to project.

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There are a number of problems with the list as far as Uganda is concerned. Most obviously is the fact that Uganda actually has no recently enacted anti-LGBT laws on its statutes. But that’s mentioned only in passing, and the focus is placed on claims that “police and groups of private citizens have publicly attacked and beaten members of the LGBTQ community.”

Really? Where is the evidence or reporting of this? Uganda is worse than South Africa, Kenya, the United States (18 reported homicides in 2013, 14 killings by May 2015) or Syria?

One mentions other countries guardedly because it can appear as though one is indulging in “whataboutism” or comparing one evil with another. But it is critical to put things in perspective because when we lie so blatantly, it can alienate friends and potential friends who will justifiably decide that there is no point in engaging with a group of people who have no interest in being rational or fair.


There has been one violent attack on an LGBT activist in Uganda this year that I know of, but it wasn’t fatal. There was another bad one last year and a number of attacks on LGBTs leaving a popular gay hangout on Sunday evenings which indications suggest were motivated by theft. Over to anyone who has more reports of  regular beatings, fatalities, maimings or hospitalizations caused by the “police and groups of private citizens.”

For records of the sordid LGBTQ attack statistics in Africa, and specifically around East Africa, one need go no further than Denis Nzioka’s prolific reporting of such incidences. I have never met Nzioka but I consider him a person every LGBT in Africa ought to see as a friend due to his relentless reporting on LGBT travails.

For the more accurate picture, one is of course best advised to seek local information. That’s also what makes the above article remarkable – none of its sources seem local to Uganda, for instance. Where then did they get their conclusions from?

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Finally, check out this deeply disturbing story of a lesbian murdered recently in South Africa, reported by Uganda’s Kuchu Times. Corrective rapes, murders, assaults are legion in South Africa despite friendly LGBT laws. Kenya, too, has had more reports of violence against LGBT in the last 6 months than Uganda has had in 3 years if Denis Nzioka’s reporting is to be believed and there is no reason not to since he is reporting while “embedded’ in the thick of the action.

This leaves puzzled as to how’s list was compiled. Perhaps more importantly, it makes one wonder if the publishers of these throwaway, sensational, uncorroborated articles realize the harm they do to the efforts of the local LGBT movements to build bridges with the rest of their non-LGBT countrymen.

Sadly, likely not.



Martin Ssempa: resurrection of a blast from the past Reply

Martin Ssempa is back in the news in Uganda in the last couple of days on a rather curious, but predictable, subject:

Minding other people’s sexual activities!

A government that has failed to provide cancer radiation treatment equipment for hundreds of thousands of its citizens has determined that taxpayers’ money must instead be spent on setting up and funding … wait for it … a pornography control committee.

Rather oddly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, Uganda’s government has chosen to include on the porn committee a convicted criminal.

In October 2012, Martin Ssempa was convicted of conspiring to tarnish a fellow pastor’s, Robert Kayanja’s, reputation. Ssempa, together with a number of over-zealous co-conspirators passing themselves off as pastors had claimed that Kayanja “sodomized” boys at his Rubaga-based church. The prosecution successfully argued that the so-called pastors collectively fabricated evidence of homo-sodomy misconduct against Kayanja, coached witnesses and actively sought to pervert the course of justice.

Now, an attempt is being made to have the convicted felon, Martin Ssempa, reprise his crusading shenanigans.

ssempa subpoenaMartin Ssempa has not had it all his way over the last four years. He also has a subpoena hanging over his head, handed down by a court in the United States, to answer charges that he, with other hate-filled accomplices, conspired to try to exterminate the gay community in Uganda. It is the United States’ version of crimes against humanity and the accused have thus far lost every round related to the case.

It is thus not an exaggeration to say that “sexual conspiracy” and Martin Ssempa have been active bedfellows in what has become a pattern over the years.

How then did the Government of Uganda see it fit to place this man on a committee meant to police the country’s sexual morals, even one that should eventually turn out to be toothless and ineffective?

The mind boggles.



Bebe Cool rubbishes his fans over Museveni 1


Undressing for Museveni: Moses Ssali (Bebe Cool)

Bebe Cool (real name Moses Ssali) is a Ugandan singer who is not singing. Scratch that, Bebe Cool is singing for his breakfast, lunch and dinner, but not on stage in front of an ecstatic audience.

For a musician who has made his name producing and performing music for a mass audience, primarily in Uganda, Bebe Cool is these days shrilly singing a discordant tune on behalf of President Yoweri Museveni who was declared the winner of the recently concluded presidential elections.

You see, Bebe Cool chose to publicly support Yoweri Museveni in the run up to the 2011 and 2016 polls, up to and including traversing the country to drum up political support for his man. That would be well and good, after all in a democracy everyone has the right to root for their preferred candidate.

What has made Mr. Ssali’s backing of Museveni, and his subsequent ridiculing of his erstwhile fans who, however, now condemn his choice, is what is raising eyebrows. There is a specific reason why Ssali supports Museveni which he, however, doesn’t dwell much on publicly. That reason is  … taxpayers’ money.

Hospitalized after being shot in a night brawl in 2010, Ssali looked to his father, Jaberi Bidandi Ssali for help. Bidandi Ssali had once been a friend and colleague of Museveni but they had fallen out and Bidandi Ssali was in the process of preparing to run against Museveni when his son was hospitalized. Bidandi Ssali went to the extent of selling off prime land in Kiwatule, a Kampala suburb, to raise money for his doomed campaign; a campaign that is rumored to have been encouraged by Yoweri Museveni who knew that Bidandi Ssali didn’t have the campaign cash and would have to sell part of his property to raise it.  Museveni’s calculation would have been right because it is now known that Bidandi Ssali’s political foray brought him to his financial knees.

By the time his son asked for financial support to get himself fixed abroad, it is safe to assume that Bidandi Ssali couldn’t readily raise the funds because he had sank a sizeable part of his nest egg into preparing to fight against Museveni in the polls that were coming up. (Bidandi Ssali himself was later taken ill in 2012 and had to rely on well-wishers to pay for his treatment abroad.) Such was the financial penury into which his election misadventure of 2011 had sunk him. Bidandi Ssali complained bitterly that the government – in Uganda Yoweri Museveni is the government – hadn’t lifted a finger to help with his medical bills.)

Museveni visits Moses Ssali in hospital (2010)

Museveni visits Moses Ssali in hospital (2010)

But back to 2010. After Bidandi Ssali failed to help raise the colossal sums his son needed to be treated abroad, Yoweri Museveni stepped in and ponied up $75,000 (247,500,000 Uganda shillings in today’s money) for Bebe Cool to fly to the United States for treatment, accompanied by his wife. Museveni’s timing couldn’t have been more propitious.

While in America, Bebe Cool publicly admitted why he couldn’t support his dad. In his own words, he owed his life to Museveni and thus his allegiances lay with the president.

bebe Cool message

Bebe Cool attempts to tell his fans that he doesn’t need them

What Bebe Cool still seems to fail to understand is that he owes his hospital treatment in America to the people of Uganda that he is currently ridiculing in garbled, arrogant, Facebook exchanges. It would be astonishingly obtuse if Ssali didn’t realize that the $75,000 the president spent on remedying the results of his nocturnal antics was taxpayers’ money. Museveni routinely hands out wads of taxpayers’ cash to all and sundry in brown envelopes, paper bags and sacks in expectation of or thanks for their support. Since his  own medical visit to the United States, Moses Ssali has sent his wife back to America twice, specifically to give birth. Most of his Ugandan fans are left to fend for themselves in the hospital death traps that their money rescues Moses Ssali’s wife from; hospitals which Ssali, rather curiously, claims are steadily improving.

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Moses Ssali and his wife Zuena living it up at taxpayers’ expense in the USA, 2010

So, thanks to the Ugandan taxpayers, Moses Ssali is alive to tell them that he is rich and doesn’t need their help. The irony is breathtaking.

Ssali is not alone in sneering at the fans he relies on for his entire livelihood. Another singer, Joseph Mayanja (stage name Jose Chameleone) has also taken to Facebook to exhort his fans who are dismayed by his choice of presidential candidate to stay away from his concerts. Mayanja has reportedly argued that he is so international that he doesn’t need Ugandan fans to survive.

Joseph Mayanja, too, thinks his fans are pests

Joseph Mayanja, too, thinks his fans are pests

When all is said and done, these singers are free to support whichever politician they choose. It, however, leaves one wondering who their advisers are when they fail to understand that their brands are inextricably intertwined with their fans’ perceptions of their personal and professional integrity which cannot but suffer when they pin their colors to the masts of questionable African politicians whose longevity is often at the expense of responsible governance.

But that is to veer into philosophical territory that will not bother Mr. Moses Ssali and Joseph Mayanja much, understandably so given that their man was handed the 2016 election and looks set to rule Uganda till he dies.

An LGBT death in Kenya to wake up the living 7

This is going to begin with a death, but it is really about the living – if they are willing to pay attention.

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The late John Paul Mulumbi

John Paul Mulumbi, a Ugandan member of the LGBTI refugee community in Kenya died a few days ago. His body was repatriated back to Uganda and he was buried Saturday February 6, 2016.

Those who knew John Paul say that he was a beautiful, gentle, and kind soul. “Whenever he came to Kampala from Jinja, all the gay sex workers trembled at his monopoly over the market,” one of the commentators who is familiar with the prowess of his sex work remarked.

John Paul seems to have been hit from all sides before he eventually succumbed and slipped away. While still in Uganda, he had acted in some awful porn movies some years back. Then he went to Kenya and sought asylum, hoping to be relocated to a friendlier clime. Reports suggest that his HIV status was a stumbling block in his attempts to be resettled. As he had done in Uganda, he resorted to sex for money, which likely led to depression because sex workers are more used and abused than respected everywhere in Africa. Life’s tough anyway for the Ugandans who’re claiming LGBT asylum in Kenya and, without a proper income, strict medication adherence and no firm economic and social anchor, John Paul’s end was as tragic as it was predictable.

That is where the focus on death ends and one shifts to the living, specifically the Ugandan LGBTs still living in Kenya, having claimed asylum in the hope of being resettled in Europe, the Americas and elsewhere.

A number of LGBTs in Kenya have contacted yours truly with stories indicating that they are facing similar circumstances to the ones that frustrated John Paul’s chances to get resettled. One thus feels it makes sense to send them some advice.

Dear hopeful LGBT Ugandans currently living in Kenya, awaiting asylum relocation to yonder lands:

1. It is true that some countries, for instance Australia, have dropped resettlement applicants when they learn of their HIV status. It is thus important that you do your homework and, wherever possible, try to find ways of being relocated to more friendly countries to those afflicted with HIV. For example, since 2010 the Obama administration dropped automatic inadmissibility into the USA on the basis of HIV status so that is one of the more friendly countries to HIV+ asylum applicants.

2. If you are HIV+ and are on medication, you must adhere to your regimen. Cut back on non-essentials, reduce your discretionary expenditure until you have taken care of your health because no one else will do it for you.
3. Jobs are difficult to come by in Kenya, just as they were in Uganda where you fled from. You should have known this before you boarded that bus to Kenya and prepared yourself mentally for a life of hardship while your asylum application was being processed. Kenyans understandably employ their own, so don’t take it personally if they overlook you for fellow citizens. You would do the same in Uganda.

That said, before you resort to sex work, remember that it is going to lead you into the murky world of being exploited, used and abused and likely also lead to depression which can be a slippery slope to losing your life. Sex workers everywhere in Africa face tough conditions so you will not find any different treatment in Kenya. Explore other ways of earning some money, without however, abrogating the conditions of your asylum status because that could also affect your chances of relocation.
4. You know it is true that some Ugandan LGBTs have been involved in repeated cases of indiscipline in Kenya; throwing raucous gay parties in rented accommodations, making scenes in bars and on the streets, muscling in on Kenyan gays’ relationships, and generally carrying on as if they went to Kenya to be divas. The result has been enmities and jealousies created, brawls in public places, brushes with the law, … you name it … a lot of which has been reported to the UNHCR and the Kenyan authorities. You will be your own worst enemy if you continue with that kind of recklessness, and you must be prepared to pay the price if you don’t desist from such destructive behavior.
5. A number of you have notified me that you were offered relocation to countries such as the United States and you rejected them, opting instead to wait for “more friendly” offers from Sweden or Norway for instance. The reason for this is that apparently word had gotten to you that Sweden provided softer landings than the USA. You’d found out that in Sweden or Norway refugees got full welfare provisions for two years, they didn’t work while they were learning the language culture and basic courses. In contrast, the USA paid limited initial rent and food stamps, and then you had to take any job to fend for yourself.

Listen up and listen up carefully:

You must change that type of foolish entitlement mentality. Many of you have fled Uganda for Kenya, with little or no money, limited education and skills to do anything professional right off the bat. You cannot thus also expect to be looked after by the taxpayers of other countries until you decide you are ready to start working. You ought to be grateful if you can start working “yesterday” at any job. The world doesn’t owe you a living simply because you are a refugee or homosexual and so you must desist from looking for ways to live as a jigger.

Sweden has in the recent weeks cut back on refugee acceptances owing to the influx from Syria and Afghanistan, and is planning to sieve and send back the lines already in their country. What if they close their doors completely? What if American government policy changes again once the Obama administration leaves office, as they must by January 2017, and HIV is put back on the list of automatic exclusions by President Donald Trump, Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio? Are you following political developments in the countries that you hope to migrate to?

Enough on this already.

Bobi Wine moves, homosexuality a damp squib at presidential debate

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Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine

Bobi Wine (real name Robert Kyagulanyi), he of the big lips and erstwhile big mouth which got him barred from performing at two London venues, has changed his mind and is now preaching the gospel of tolerance.

In a Facebook post, Kyagulanyi acknowledged that we must be tolerant of everyone’s differences, including our differing sexualities. Hmm … One has to be charitable and look at where a man is going, rather than where he has been, so yours truly will accept that Kyagulanyi is trying to make amends for his ill-informed  excoriation of a section of his fellow citizens and fans. Mr. Kyagulanyi’s words:

“In my life,I have disagreed with many people over many issues. Our opinions have differed on religion,sexual preferences,politics and a wide range of ideologies. There are reasons why we differ in thinking ranging from the way we are brought up,our geographical locations,Social classification and the general mindset of societies where we live. That however doesn’t mean that an individual is superior or inferior to the other just because they differ in opinions about the above. My key message this year is;”Ayawuka kundowoza yo tekimufula mulabe wo” (difference in opinion doesn’t make us enemies). Let us approach every issue with respect for one another,let us replace violence with tolerance, Yes! TOLERANCE; Let us tolerate each other no matter how far distant our opinions might differ. I believe that if we all subscribed to only one opinion,we would be damn fools,”

Way to go, Bobi Wine. Yours truly thinks it is okay for you and others to have ambivalent, even negative, views about homosexuality. What is not okay is for anyone to support the criminalization and/or marginalization of anyone based on who they are or to act upon their feelings in a way that is ruinous. So, your call for tolerance is  very much welcome.

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No show: Uganda’s obfuscating Yoweri Museveni

It was also the week in which Uganda held its first fully-fledged presidential debate. Despite the president of the country chickening out of the debate, it went ahead thank you very much. The highlight of the debate for yours truly was the question posed to the respective candidates about their views on homosexuality.

Amama Mbabazi who is on already the record publicly rejecting the anti-homosexuality bill and supporting non-interference into adult sexual freedoms sidestepped answering directly, perhaps rather understandably for the type of forum it was. Some of the the other candidates had harsh words about homosexuality but their input isn’t one that should worry us too much since they have no chance whatever of getting into office.

What should have been a highly incendiary topic three years ago thus went down like a lead balloon that barely deserves spending time on here. Yours truly is already looking forward to election day, February 18 2016 at which, it is now apparent, politician’s views on homosexuality will not play a significant part in the vote. And that can only be a good thing.

It, however, needs to be noted that Uganda’s president of 30 years has changed his position on homosexuality more times than a corkscrew opening a wine bottle; being against it, then for it, then against it, condemning legislation for it, requesting for scientific input which he then spun to his own ends, before he rejected and signed the anti-homosexuality bill into law. In fact he’s the only candidate in the race with more than 3 positions on this subject. That in of itself is a good thing because, with the president’s position changing depending on his intended audience, there is no more political capital to be gained for any other candidate to nail their colors to the mast of supporting same-sex relationships.


SMUG Gala 2015 – a deservedly runaway success!!

Last night all roads led to Protea Hotel in Kampala for the first ever Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) Gala cum celebration of 10 years of the organization’s existence. If you were not there, mind not; you were well represented by beautiful boys and girls who were dressed straight out of GQ magazine. It’s safe to say that there has never been an event in Uganda with so many tuxedo-wearing “girls.”

imag2371_burst002_1.jpgIn attendance were foreign diplomats, the UN representative to Uganda, academic and activist powerhouse Sylvia Tamale and, of course, luminaries such as yours truly without whose presence no occasion would be considered a success.

imag2373_1.jpgThe guest of honor was none other than the first female president of Uganda, Specioza Wandira Kazibwe. Yes, she took time out to remind a rapt audience that not only had she been Uganda’s first vice president, but she was also in charge whenever the president of the country was out of the country. That must be why, I thought to myself, the vice president stands sentry on the tarmac when the president flies back from a trip abroad – to physically hand back the instruments of power.

But this is supposed to be about SMUG’s classy celebration.

Besides the ultra chic surroundings, red carpet fashion statements, the great wines and food, was a very serious cause – promoting LGBTI health in Uganda. SMUG (and gay activism) has come a very long way from 10 years ago and it showed in the crispness and clarity of the message articulated by the organization’s leaders. The message was as obvious as it is critical that it is embraced fully by Uganda’s government. From a lay man’s vantage point, that message is this: LGBTI health concerns are the entire country’s health concerns and have to be treated as such by mainstreaming them into national public health programs. LGBTI Ugandans are our brothers, sisters, children and, dare one say it, spouses. To ignore their health concerns will set back the HIV/Aids campaign in the entire country years because diseases don’t discriminate or have boundaries.

imag2372_1.jpgYours truly is not here to give a blow-by-blow account of what transpired at Hotel Protea – there are more qualified avenues such as for that. Suffice it to say that SMUG put on a most impressive event with excellent artists such as our very own Brian Nkoyooyo, the beautiful Lillian Mbabazi and the impossibly handsome Maurice Kirya who revealed that he had only moments earlier written a new song. He then proceeded to perform it for the first time. You could literally hear the juices of the man-loving Ugandan girls (yes, especially those resplendent in their tuxedos) gushing down their legs when it was mentioned that Maurice was in the house. Maurice is, sadly, a missed call but he’s never been more good-looking in his life. Sigh …

If one were to quibble, it would be about the time management of the event. Galas of this sort should ideally not run longer than three hours, including cocktails, speeches, dinner and entertainment. But this was a first that nearly didn’t happen, thanks to last-minute attempts by Minister Lokodo to abort it, so one can give leeway and dwell chiefly on the achievement of pulling it off.

Next time SMUG please: more professionally recorded video clips, concise PowerPoint slides, a menu that acknowledges guests who don’t eat meat, and shorter speeches from everyone.

Other than that, congratulations for the work being done to campaign for LGBTI health to be made part and parcel of Uganda’s mainstream public health provision, for the outreach work in the community and for a fabulous high-class party.

Please invite me back for next one. Please.

The choices before LGBT Ugandans in February 2016

The 2016 polls are around the corner Ugandan gay boys and girls (LGBT). One hopes that you registered to  vote. If you didn’t, and must sit it out, never mind; you can redeem yourself for 2021.

In the meantime, it is important for LGBTs who have registered to vote to have a clear mind about what is best for the gay community and the country. Yours truly, as always, will not mince words on the choices before us … and the country.

There are three viable candidates; the incumbent of 30 years (Yoweri Museveni); perennial also-ran , Kiiza Besigye; and Amama Mbabazi who outfoxed his boss and jumped ship to challenge him.

In Besigye we know we have an ally because he has openly supported the gay cause, most notably in the run-up to the 2011 polls when he savaged the anti-homosexuality bill and reiterated his lack of interest in policing adult consensual sexual relationships.

Candidate Besigye visiting Abim "Hospital"

Candidate Besigye visiting Abim “hospital”

What’s not clear yet is how the LGBT movement would harness his support but there is no doubt that as a medical doctor, he couldn’t possibly overlook Uganda’s scandalously medieval medical provision. Kiiza Besigye is a man we can do business with.

Then Prime Minister, Mbabazi, on a surprise visit to a public hospital

Then Prime Minister, Mbabazi, on a surprise visit to a public hospital

We can also rely on Amama Mbabazi. He, too, has dismissed anti-gay legislation publicly. It is also not a mean feat for anyone to stand up to his boss in the way Mbabazi has. This man has a spine of steel, something that Uganda needs in any leader who wishes to take on the corruption that Yoweri Museveni has encouraged in every aspect of Ugandan life. Don’t forget, too, that Mbabazi knows where all the current government’s bodies are buried.

Solome Nakaweesi-Kayondo: a woman you want on your side

Solome Nakaweesi-Kayondo: a woman we have on our side

Yes, it’s taken Mbabazi 30 years to abandon Museveni’s corruption-ridden ship and throw his hat in the ring, but it’s not where a man has been but where he is going that matters. Besides, how could we possibly fail to get a receptive audience with President Mbabazi with the indomitable Solome Nakawesi-Kayondo as his Chief of Staff?

Yoweri Museveni's private jet - An ambulance in Northern Uganda

Yoweri Museveni’s private jet – A makeshift ambulance in Northern Uganda

Our, and the country’s, worst scenario is to get Museveni back in. Though he was useful on the political front at pivotal moments in the anti-gay bill fight, that fight is now not a critical concern. We also know that Museveni chopped and turned incoherently on the bill for his own selfish ends. Yes, he kept the bill from being debated on the floor of Parliament for more than three years, but that was about keeping donor funds flowing, not any overarching interest in the minority gay population in Uganda.

Uganda's foremost referral hospital remains a death trap after 30 years of Museveni's rule

Uganda’s foremost referral hospital remains a death trap after 30 years of Museveni’s rule

Museveni is hopeless where the country’s health issues are concerned as his disinterest in Uganda’s public health facilities and total disregard for the welfare of Uganda’s medical staff has illustrated over the past 30 years.

We must not think only of ourselves as we go to the polls. Museveni thus doesn’t deserve to be returned to power on account of his criminal neglect for the healthcare of Ugandans that are not his ministers, his family or sycophants. If in 30 years he has shown scant interest in the health of Ugandans, leaving up to 6,000 women to die in child-birth each year for instance, why should he care about minority LGBT health concerns in his dotage?

As has happened so successfully in Kenya, the gay community in Uganda has to position itself strategically to make sure that whoever is in power after the 2016 elections takes LGBT health matters seriously. That is the next frontier in the struggle – to ensure that HIV/Aids and other preventable/treatable diseases don’t destroy the LGBT community and, by extension, the rest of the country.

Yours truly will thus not recommend that any Ugandan gay man or woman votes for Yoweri Museveni in 2016.

Vote wisely when you go to the polls in February 2016.

Europe’s Comeuppance

This is going to be short and brutal.

If you are American, French, or a European horrified about the 150 killings in France last night, here are some interesting anecdotes your “civilized” taxes are responsible for:

Palestine: at least 10,000 killed by Israel in the last 15 years alone, more than 25,000 homes demolished since 1967 – all of it funded by the American taxpayers of course.

Beirut, a couple of days ago: 43 killed a couple of days ago. Barely a murmur from anywhere in the “civilized” world.

Iraq: more than 500,000 dead. Millions displaced, all thanks to the direct actions of an American president, George W. Bush, who unilaterally invaded a country that hadn’t attacked his own, concocting evidence along the way to trawl in the “civilized” European faithful.

ISIS; a foreseeable albeit unintended result of George W. Bush’s actions in Iraq. Thousands killed and still counting, millions displaced. Europe in support with, lately, Russia joining the mêlée.

Dear “civilized” Western world:

These Jihadist guys are responding to you the only way their history and mindsets tell them to. If you didn’t know this when you moved in to show them how to adopt your style of “civilized” governance, now you do.

You can stop trying to run their business and let them get on with however they wish to rule themselves up to and including killing themselves en mass, or you can continue meddling and they bring the battle to your doorstep as is their instinct. You have clear evidence of the results of both options.

And while you are at it civilized people of Western Europe, tear up the Schengen Agreement if your choice is to continue meddling in the Middle East. It was a Utopian ideal of open, unfettered, borders that only made sense when you were minding your own business, and were not taking in desperate foreigners fleeing wars you helped start. Right now, it just makes you all look naïve and, dare one say it, foolish.

More progress in Uganda: MSM acknowledged in MARPS program 1

Fresh from a resoundingly positive legal message for the LGBTI in Uganda, when a Magistrate differentiated between gay rape (criminal) and consensual gay sex (not criminal), there  is yet more good news, this time on health care.

The Government of Uganda has agreed to continue supporting a pilot health program for Most at Risk Populations (MARPS) in mainstream hospitals. MARPS include men who have sex with men (MSM), fishing communities, boda boda (itinerant motorbike) riders, truckers and sex workers.

No, they might not do a perfect job initially, but that’s beside the point at this juncture; acknowledging that MSM are part of society and deserve to be cared for by the government under the MARPS program is.

Money quote from the Observer’s report:

“So, key populations will not be left out as it has been in the past,” Musinguzi [manager of the Aids Control Programme (ACP) in the Ministry of Health] said last week while presiding at a function organised by Community Health Alliance of Uganda (CHAU), which implemented the Danida-funded MARPs pilot project. “They [MARPs] are people like us and they should get services without discrimination,” Musinguzi said in closing remarks at the function held on September 4 at Fairway hotel in Kampala.

This is turning out to be a rather good week for gestures towards the gay community in Uganda, isn’t it?

Now for the real work of ensuring that the government lives up to its commitment and actually doesn’t discriminate against MARPS.

Ugandan judge makes distinction between forceful and consensual sodomy 10

The Ugandan judiciary continues to pleasantly surprise.

In a groundbreaking ruling, Chief Magistrate Flavia Nabakooza today convicted ex-football manager, Chris Mubiru, of forceful sodomy, but acquitted him of sex with another male because that was consensual.

Chris Mubiru: guilty of gay rape, not guilty of consensual gay sex.

Chris Mubiru: guilty of gay rape, not guilty of consensual gay sex

Hasty commentators seem to have missed the significance of Magistrate Nabakooza’s ruling and have rushed to condemn it.

They should step back and think through the verdict’s overall import.

You might recall that Chris Mubiru was/is the football manager whose filmed sex acts with boys  surfaced on the front pages of the tabloid press. He fled the country to Britain but then returned a couple of months later to face trial for his alleged crimes.

In today’s landmark ruling, Chris Mubiru was convicted of having drugged a one Emmanuel Nyanzi and then having forceful sex with him. But he was acquitted of a second charge of sex with George Oundo on the grounds that the sex with Oundo was consensual.

The judge thus made a distinction between consensual and non-consensual sodomy which is critical to be made.

This ruling should be applauded for the forward-looking precedent it sets.

Mubiru is apparently going to appeal the ruling and that is his right. But care needs to be taken by commentators not to get carried away too much by the misleading headlines.

Mubiru was NOT convicted of sodomy; he was convicted of the “forceful” sodomy (rape) of Nyanzi and acquitted of consensual homo-sodomy with Oundo.

Monitor Newspaper report

Monitor Newspaper report

Chief Magistrate Nabakooza has made a most critical and timely distinction and her ruling is nothing if not welcome.