Dr. Stella Nyanzi, a Ugandan queer scholar running for Parliament, is seeking campaign contributions from gay celebrities Ellen DeGeneres and Sir Elton John.
By Joto La Jiwe
Nyanzi’s longstanding support of LGBTQ+ rights has lost her some support in her campaign to be elected as Kampala Woman Member of Parliament during the 2021 elections.
In a Facebook message posted on Saturday she stated, “I have never denied that I am a strong ally of the LGBTIQA+ communities in Uganda specifically, but Africa more broadly”.
Dr. Nyazi has participated in several local Pride marches, variously supported LGBTQI+ individuals and organisations, and backed diverse challenges to Uganda’s now-overturned Anti-Homosexuality Bill and Act of 2014.
“I embrace my queer activism and pro-LGBTIQA+ rights advocacy,” the outspoken academic and repeatedly imprisoned dissident stated. She has published scholarly journal articles, book chapters and poetry on same-sex relationships and non-binary genders.
She branded her campaign #FromPrison2Parliament. After she declared her candidature for parliament, her political rivals have targeted her defiant activism for the human rights of LGBTIQA+ people. In what she calls a political smear campaign, they reportedly have called her “a promoter of homosexuality,” “a violator of Kiganda, Ugandan and African traditional values,” and “a dangerous example to youths”.
“Our moral and spiritual values as Ugandans, and Africans in general, have been degenerated by defenders of LBGTIQA, a group whose values are youth- and moral-unfriendly. In this regard, you deserve a fail on Kampala MP seat,” wrote an anti-gay advocate named Richard Migiro in response to Nyanzi’s support for the rights of the LGBTQI+ community in Uganda.
In a deeply conservative national context where patriarchy, misogyny, heterosexism, homophobia and transphobia thrive, Nyanzi worries that “homophobic propaganda” is deterring potential supporters from supporting her campaign.
According to Nyanzi, her opponents assert that her campaign for political office is heavily funded by white gay men and white lesbians.
As one way of countering the narratives of her detractors, she launched her fundraising drive by putting Ellen DeGeneres and Elton John at the top of her list of her proposed contributors. Until now, Nyanzi insists, she has never received any funding from any white gay man or white lesbian. She believes it is high time she reached out to them. With a US $340,000 budget, Stella Nyanzi would have 1.3 billion Ugandan shillings to spend on her political campaigns if her request is granted.
This move has drawn both rage and support from the public as reflected in the following Facebook comments, each labeled with the commenter’s Facebook name:
Accusations and lies have been circulating about Doctor that she is a lesbian but in truth she ain’t, and the rumor went as far as she is being sponsored by gay community to win this campaign. So she decided to give them the opportunity to even shout and jump higher no more murmuring in the pots, she is an activists and that’s what we do, mind games at work, never joke with an educated woman, who knows her roots, whether gay or not we are all humans, it’s your choice of sexuality as long as you are not gaying with me, everyone is a sinner and we all sin differently.
Richard Muhereza Johnson:
I hope, Dr. Stella, when you enter into Parliament you’re not to table bills that advocate for homosexuality and lesbianism. … This may affect your vote… Your opponents are going to use this as a tool… n a weapon to fight you… Ugandans are not so ready for gayism n lesbianism publication.
Matiz Ibra Krupa (Facebook Name)
It’s about the fate of our country’s politics and economic system. We need outspoken minds, intellectual giants, real big brains in the opposition like Stella Nyanzi. I might not agree with all her individual moral choices but I can’t disregard the fact that this woman has proven beyond reasonable doubt that she would sacrifice anything for this country, been in and out of freedom not for the sake of LGBT …. All I see is a woman ready and willing to confront anyone in parliament, even president himself, for the sake of justice and equality for all Ugandans.
Nana Mwafrika Mbarikiwa:
“It now makes no sense that anybody tries to blackmail this woman because she says it all as is. She has told it all….
Stella has a good heart. She is a good person whichever way she does what she does. And well she has been open about so much that it’s almost impossible to use any smear/ blackmail to discredit her.
Stella Nyanzi, I support you. All this foreign aid Uganda gets is money taxed off people some of whom are gay like Elton John & Ellen.
To those allergic to gay people, don’t use roads built, hospitals built with gay money.
Joto La Jiwe, the author of this article, is a Ugandan correspondent for the African Human Rights Media Network and a member of the Uganda Health and Science Press Association. He writes under a pseudonym.