Pressure mounts on President Museveni following Parliament’s passage of homophobic bill.
By Joto La Jiwe
Eight mothers of LGBTQI+ Ugandans are the latest to urge the President not to sign the bill into law, citing the inconsistencies of the bill and the dangerous anti-gay rhetoric and messaging being spread by homophobes.
The mothers are: Jane Nasimbwa, Sylvia Nassuna, Janet Ndagire, Patricia Naava, Jackie Nabbosa Mpungu, Florence Matovu Kansanze, Josephine Amonyatta and Shamim Nakamate.
In an open letter to President Museveni published in the Daily Monitor on 28th March, the mothers wondered how the
members of parliament who supported the bill could claim to be protecting children from an ‘invisible enemy’ by passing a law that puts children in danger.
“No parent should ever be put in such a position as we find ourselves today, least of all by a legislative body elected by Ugandans to represent and pass laws that protect all Ugandans. We have always loved our children, and this did not change when we learned that they are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex respectively. This is offensive at so many levels because it strips Ugandan citizens that identify as LGBTQ+ of their constitutional rights” the mothers stated in their letter.
They also accused those they described as religious fundamentalists for referring to LGBTQI+ people, including children, as outcasts and criminals who are destined for imprisonment.
“It has been horrific to watch this form of hate speech against our children in mainstream [media] and on social media”, the mothers stated.
The proposed law puts them into a difficult position as parents, they said.
“We monitor the media every day with bated breath, with heavy hearts, with a burden of fear that has been forced upon us by the country, a fear of our children going to jail for many years simply for being different. Being different is not a crime. As parents of LGBTQ+ individuals, we are not ‘promoters’ of any agenda; we are Ugandan mothers, who have had to overcome many of our own biases to fully understand, accept, and love our children. We have always known that our children are ‘different’ — from a young age and, in many ways, tried to turn them onto the path that we felt would be safer, a path of conformity to a norm that we now understand is not innate to LGBTQ+ children.”
They urged President Museveni to veto the bill which they describe as offensive, stripping Ugandan citizens that identify as LGBTQ+ of their constitutional rights.
“We request you, our cherished President, not to assent to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, and we ask that you instead to ask Parliament to enact laws that protect all children from all forms of violence and discrimination.”
The mothers say they are not going to stand on the sidelines and watch as their children continue to be bashed and threatened in such a dangerous and deliberate manner. They vowed to love, support and defend their LGBTQI+ children under all circumstances because they are as special and valuable as any other Ugandans. They stated:
“All our children, no matter their age, sexual orientation and gender identity, need and deserve our love. This is the very basis of what a family unit is about. Home is more than just structures, it’s a safe haven and refuge of love, learning, and belonging. Just like our children did not choose to be LGBTQ+, we too did not choose to be parents of LGBTQ+ children, but we have chosen to love our children for who they are. As parents, we all desire and work to ensure that our children are healthy, well-educated, successful, and fulfilled in both their professional and personal lives.
“We fear that our children are going to be targets of mob violence; which is a direct consequence of living in a country whose legislators are recklessly legalizing homophobia and transphobia with this Anti-Homosexuality Law. We know this to be true: Our children are not sinners; they are children of God!
“Our children are not outcasts. Our children are not punching bags; our children are not enemies of the state. Our children are not disgusting. Our children are not any of the derogatory names they have been tethered with; our children are not criminals or anti-government. Our children are more than their sexuality and gender identity. Our children are Ugandan citizens, just like you and me! Our children are outstanding citizens of this great nation, and valuable contributors to this country.
“Our children are your neighbors, employers, educators, casual laborers and employees, government officials, legislators, and local leaders. Our children are ingrained in every facet of the Ugandan society. They are part of the beating heart of Uganda: Our blood and future.”
These eight mothers are not the only mothers of LGBTQI+ children in Uganda. They are just a few who have had the courage to speak out against the homophobic bill at a time when even some renowned human rights activists are afraid of speaking out.
Many more mothers are likely to speak out, and fathers could join in; but this will depend on how things unfold in the coming weeks and months. Unfortunately, there are also many who will never speak out because they believe that silence is the best way to protect their lives and the lives of their beloved children who happen to be LGBTQI+.
Joto La Jiwe, the author of this article, is a Ugandan correspondent for the African Human Rights
Media Network. He writes under a pseudonym. Contact him at [email protected].
Source: African Human Rights Media Network member Erasing 76 Crimes.