Uganda: Invoking Culture or Religion to Harm Others Can Never Be Justified

opinion

This month, Uganda's 'Ethics and Integrity Minister' Simon Lokodo announced that his government planned to reintroduce an 'anti-homosexuality bill' to provide for the imposition of the death penalty on individuals found guilty of 'homosexuality'. While a spokesperson for President Yoweri Museveni later claimed the government had no such plans, the original announcement again raises questions about the use of religion and culture to justify the criminalisation of an entire group of people.

I met Jonathan in 1997 in Kampala, Uganda. At the time, I was a lecturer at the University of Western Cape (UWC) and had travelled with the UWC moot court team to participate in the All Africa Human Rights Moot Court competition at Makerere University.

Lecturers and students were all staying at Livingstone Hall (I am not kidding), a student residence on the Makerere campus. On the first night in Kampala, I joined a group of lecturers and students and walked to a shebeen (I was told that in Uganda these were called "kafundas") just outside the main gate of Makerere University campus.

We each bought a Tusker quart from the women behind the table serving as a bar counter and made ourselves comfortable on small plastic chairs....

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