The mayor of Entebbe in central Uganda, Fabrice Brad Rulinda, has removed rainbow-colored coats of paint from a tower in a local children’s park following claims that it promoted homosexuality.
In a letter dated Feb. 1, Mayor Rulinda says he regretted the move but that he lays the blame on queer people, not the homophobes who demanded the rainbow’s removal.
“It is unfortunate that certain movements have decided to use the rainbow to represent and reflect certain acts that go against the norms of the people of Uganda,” he says. “We need to curb any vices that would corrupt the minds of our children and it is on this background that the concerns raised by the public were heeded to and the rainbow painting was removed from the children’s park.”
He praised the Lion’s Club that put up the rainbow painting in the park, describing the club as a group of patriotic citizens that sought to give back to the community through creating a beautiful play area for the children.
Globally, the LGBTQI+ community has adopted the rainbow flag, also known as the gay pride flag or simply the pride flag, as a symbol of the movement. The rainbow colours are said to reflect the diversity of the LGBTQI+ community and the spectrum of human sexuality and gender.
The rainbow painting has since been replaced with a set of other colours, but the move by the mayor to give in to homophobes has come under fire on social media.
“Children don’t know what is gay or not. To them, a rainbow is something fun… God knows my daughter loves rainbow cake. But these adults are hell-bent on taking away all the fun from the little ones in the name of fighting their wars. Let children be children,” writes Eric Ndawula (@EricNdawulaGrif) on Twitter.
The furor increases people’s interest in homosexuality, one observer says: “They are promoting homosexuality without them knowing. The more they talk about it, the more people become inquisitive,” writes Sarah Biryomumaisho (@BiryomumaishoB) on Twitter.
“A rainbow ? is too beautiful to hate. Our angry politicians and evangelicals are running nuts over a park tower with rainbow colors? This state-sponsored homophobia must be challenged now. Will these leaders cover the sky when a natural rainbow comes out or they will sue God?” @HillaryTaylorVI tweets.
Anti-LGBT rhetoric is on the rise in Uganda, with increasing examples coming from the office of the President, the First Lady, the speaker of Parliament and many evangelical religious leaders using strong language against the LGBTQI+ community.
Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda under the Penal Code, with acts of same-sex intimacy punishable with up to life imprisonment.