When I'm anal down I'm gay

I live in Uganda and I am gay

On February 24, 2014 Uganda's President Yoweri Katuga Museveni signed the Anti Homo-Sexuality Act (AHA) - a nationally and internationally highly controversial law that criminalizes any kind of sexual orientation that deviates from "natural" heterosexuality. The penalties are draconian: A homosexual sex act faces 14 years in prison, those who are accused of "aggravated" homosexuality face life imprisonment. Those who suspect a third person and do not file a complaint risk seven years behind bars.

Ugandan jurisprudence is no exception in Africa: most states on the continent criminalize homosexuality. Already in the colonial days "the carnal knowledge against the law of nature" (the unnatural act) was punishable, mentioned in the same breath with child abuse or fornication with animals. Uganda's AHA differs from most others only in its severity and the time of its entry into force.

The advocates of the law base their commitment on the urgent need to protect Ugandan culture and society from moral decline. The opponents assume a political maneuver with which Museveni, who is losing supporters in conservative circles after 28 years of rule, wants to secure his power.

In order to take the wind out of the sails of the lesbian-gay, bisexual and transgender community (LGBT), the government and parliament have taken strategic steps. In 2008, with the tightening of the NGO law, some LGBT organizations were forced into illegality; since 2009 the rest have been harassed with police raids and undercover investigations. To date, 38 organizations have stopped working. Through their umbrella organization Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and from the underground, lawyers and activists continue to fight against the criminalization of their clientele and face threats and persecution. However, they are also achieving success: on August 1, the discriminatory law was suspended due to a formal error.

In the second part of the professional series "I live in", the Ugandan gay Sam Kato tells about life under the homophobic pogrom atmosphere in his homeland. Next week a Syrian will report on everyday life in the city of Raqqah, which is ruled by the "Islamic State". Petra Navara, Kampala

Location of Uganda in East Africa

"At some point you can no longer smile"

A tiny outdoor dining area in Kampala, surrounded by a high stone wall. We ordered cappuccino and croissants. Sam Kato (name changed by the editor), young, slim build, almond-shaped eyes with a melancholy look, switches off his phone and begins to tell:

I am Ugandan and gay. This commitment can cost us homosexuals, bisexuals or transgender people our future. The legislation in Uganda not only makes us criminals, it judges our whole person with a simple formula: You are your sex + your sex is criminal = you are a criminal.

For many, self-worth is in the basement, they think of going underground, escaping, suicide. We live in double roles, in resignation and depression because we are denied being human among people - quite officially: by members of parliament like David Bahati, who exempts us from human rights; by the president publicly calling homosexuals repulsive and abnormal; of the church that calls us devils who lead God's children to a sinful life.

The Catholic Church is the one most agitated against the LGBT community. She likes the role of the guardian of morals and custom. Pastor Martin Ssempa is arguably the most prominent representative of the clerical anti-gay movement in Uganda - my favorite enemy, if you will. With wide eyes and full of enthusiasm, he tells his community how gay men get on with each other and shows it on his laptop: "Look! They kiss each other's anus, stick their tongues in, and when Poo Poo comes out they hand it out all over his face and lick it off. ”He mimes the scene! The churchgoers turn away in disgust, close their eyes and ears, throw their hands up to heaven and pray: for the poor, degenerate, devil-possessed brothers and sisters .Hallelujah!

The Watoto Church, on the other hand, offers a "reparative therapy": prayers for inner healing and power by the Holy Spirit. Therapy for homosexuals? This is worse than discrimination. No, this is discrimination. They forget that God is love, not love Damnation. This is my approach. I don't let radical, paid self-promoters and self-appointed therapists take my spirituality away from me.

Ugandans have a hard time talking about sex. We are a culturally and religiously determined prudish society. Sex is kind of implicit, private. Only with us LGBT people is it made a public matter.

Banagne (in the Bantu language Luganda an expression for inner turmoil, note), I am not my sexuality, I am a human being! It hurts me that we are only defined by our sex. We are no different from everyone else: smart and stupid, beautiful and ugly, talented and clumsy, sick and healthy.

Are straight people defined by their sex? No. But we are the repulsive sodomites. If it goes by the Ugandan definition of gay sex, I've never had it. I don't like anal intercourse, it has too much to do with exercising power and submission. Most believe it is inevitable because you have to put your - you know what - somewhere. Nonsense. We do not copy the heterosexual act. We want tenderness, eroticism, warmth, love, respect. Like most people.

Our sex. In truth, he's the least interesting thing about us. But it is both fascinating and repulsive. I strongly suspect that some anti-gays are fighting against their own gay feeling in their fight against gays.

I do not mean to say that all clergymen are fanatical in their own right. Many are hired. M7 (Abbreviation for President Museveni: "Mu-" is a Bantu prefix for animated beings, seveni is the number seven, note) has long supported the anti-gay movement; his office has allegedly distributed $ 500,000 to pastors and radio stations, A pure maneuver to divert attention from more important issues such as corruption, social development, national debt, if you ask me. You direct interest to the "immoral" behavior of a minority, and the mob runs emotionalized, disgusted and scared storm.

Of course, he didn't just sign the law out of defiance, no, he had commissioned a study to make sure. His conclusion: "Gays are repulsive, but I was willing to ignore that if it is innate. Since it is not innate, it has to be a free choice"

According to the scientific knowledge of its 14 medical experts, homosexuality cannot be innate, because we hardly reproduce and do not pass on any genes responsible for it. International scientists strongly disagree. But rational arguments all too often fall on deaf ears in politics. The fact that there are gays and lesbians all over the world - from time immemorial, and even individual Buganda kings have been suspected - is an indication that a wide variety of sexual preferences is normal among people. Homosexuality is not genetically determined, but a possible variant in the range of orientations. So are we abnormal because we are quantitatively underrepresented in statistics?

The media are heavily involved in this clerical political agitation. In 2010 the tabloid "Rolling Stone" published 100 names of allegedly homosexual Ugandans with an explicit call to kill them. "Hang them!", They wrote. We panicked, locked ourselves in our apartments, stopped meeting friends, stopped our online contacts.

Few have raised their heads and filed charges against the newspaper. The court upheld the plaintiff, David Kato. He was murdered shortly after the verdict was announced.

The way our media world works, we are at the mercy of LGBTs. The masses are satisfied with superficial stories, are happy about embarrassing photos of bare thighs, fat wedding couples and chained criminals. The powerful determine the content that is communicated.

How are our NGOs supposed to educate about homosexuality in a society in which free media only exist pro forma and even the freer ones among them do not take up such a hot topic as a right to self-determined sexuality, because it is socially taboo and condemned by politics, church and tradition becomes? And a people who are deliberately misinformed or half informed and ignorant, obedient to the authorities and bigoted, a writer or pastor screaming at the market can sell them any nonsense. The readers do not question, analyze or reflect. "They eat da Poo Poo" - and all of Uganda is convinced that gays eat excrement for dessert.

After the law was passed, the newspaper "Red Pepper" published 100 names. Two men were dragged out of their home and beaten, one died. "Red Pepper" did not have to fear any consequences. The paper is said to belong to a half-brother of the President.

This agitation should actually weld us gays, lesbians, Bi’s and transgender together. We could encourage each other and work together for our right to a completely normal life. The opposite is the case. Many gays hate other gays. Especially the "girls" among us are often blamed by the "male" gays for the bad reputation of homosexuals because they tend to produce themselves in public and attract attention. We should be grateful to our drag queens for showing courageously and openly who and what they are. If all LGBT people had this courage, we would have achieved more. It's sad that the gay community is not pulling together, but is arguing over a few false eyelashes and tits.

On the other hand also understandable. The climate in the country does not encourage open confrontation. Instead, we go underground and quietly and lonely are afraid of denunciation by the neighbors at the landlord who kicks us in front of the door, and of harassment at work - if we are not fired immediately - or of the mob, if one more time Name list appears.

I also accuse myself of cowardice. I would rather go to university in South Africa than stay in Kampala. The situation for non-straight people is not much better there either. Lesbian women in South Africa like to be cured with corrective rapes. ”The police do not pursue such cases, and even the families of the victims cover up these“ well-intentioned ”rapes.

Because I am a coward myself, I am incredibly proud of those who do not shy away from threats and distress to stand up for our rights.

Victor Mukasa had lost her job and her apartment umpteen times when her name was Juliet and she was a woman. She was offered corrective rape, exorcism, and beatings. She went her own way, took over the chairmanship of the umbrella organization for sexual minorities in Uganda (SMUG) as Victor, represents Africa's LGBT community on an international level and has even spoken to the UN Human Rights Commission.

Pepe Julian Onziema does not speak from the podium as often as Victor, he is more the man in the background who grabs our government by the horns. It had not escaped Pepe that too few members of parliament were present for the adoption of the AHA, which made them pointless. The Constitutional Court had to uphold his complaint.

Pioneer, leading figure and the best lawyer among us is probably Frank Mugisha. In 2004 he founded the first LGBT representation in our country, the Icebreakers Uganda, and is now chairman of SMUG. No opponent is too powerful for him, no death threat too intimidating. He holds his head out for all of us. He would be a worthy candidate for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.

If I had the courage of these men, I would not have hesitated so long to stand by my direction. At first I thought that an outing was not necessary. It is no one's business. Then I got into situations more and more often in which I had to play a role and pretend. The mother asked me about a friend; At school everyone wondered why the girls ran after me and why I ran away; at mass the pastor railed against the devil homosexuality; a friend of mine was attacked on the street for wearing high heels. At some point you will no longer be able to smile, look away and pretend nothing is there.

On the other hand there was the fear of being pushed back when I say what's going on. Ultimately, an inner rage and the ability to take me out of the line of fire led me to let my parents know - in a letter I left behind when I went to South Africa to study.

The reactions? Shock, fear, love, perplexity. My father was ashamed of his supposed failure, not of me. What was he doing wrong? Hadn't he raised me differently than my brother? Mother was desperate. She was afraid for me. Would the university exclude me? Would I get enough love in the classic sense without a family? Could I ever be happy and successful? She seeks advice and consolation in faith.

My sisters were the ones who reacted the way I wanted them to: indifferent. I don't want pity, help or ashes on my parents' head. I want what most gays, lesbians and transgender people want: acceptance bordering on indifference. Not more.

Part I of the series: I live in Simferopol in the Crimea