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Founder & Chairman

Can you tell us more about yourself?

 My name is Moses Walusimbi. I was born in Masaka, a district of Uganda, where I started my primary school education. I have always been going to Catholic schools. It was not until 1994 that I came to know that I like boys. I was punished for this several times, and expelled from different schools. I can say now that these experiences have helped me to get to know myself better. I never came out to anyone in my life, though my parents kept asking me if it was true. My sister was my closest friend, but I never told her either.

What is it like to live as an LGBT in Uganda?

 It’s very hard to live as an LGBT ‘er in Uganda, because you will never enjoy life until you die. We face discrimination from our family members, community and religious leaders. For example, I used to help priests during the mass service, but our headmaster went to the priests at the Parish and they told me later that I should not continue to go to the reverend father’s house anymore. It’s very hard to find a job, because once they find out who you are, they will dismiss you and follow you. People will start pointing at you, which results in mob justice sometimes. LGBT persons in Uganda face a hard life since they cannot afford good housing facilities or health care. Politics is one of the main issues as to why we live a miserable life, e.g. politicians come out with a Kill the Gay Bill, but they are never deciding whether to pass it or to dismiss it. That puts a lot of people’s lives in danger, since it is left in the hands of the majority. Many LGBT-persons will never complete their studies, due to being bullied and their fear of fellow students. This results in them being school drop outs. Being safe in Uganda is when you are living in a closet, which is not good because who knows… one day people may find out and the outcome may not be good.

Are there any organisations in Uganda that support the LGBT community?

I have heard of other organisations that are helping LGBT’s in Uganda but I was never involved in any of them. Why? Because I never felt safe in Uganda and never trusted anyone. It was very hard to get into contact with those organisations, because they considered safety first as well. For example Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), which was an organisation I had always heard of, but I have never met anyone from there. When I searched online, I came to know many other organisations existed, like St. Paul Voice centre, Friends of freedom Uganda, I Freedom Uganda, Gheho, etc.

What is Uganda Gay On Move?

Having run away from a homophobic country where they were amending the Kill the Gay Bill, I always felt sorry for other people and thought it was time to let Ugandans know that they should learn and accept LGBT’s because it is part of our human rights to love whomever we want. Uganda Gay On Move is a group of LGBT’s from Uganda, but also from other countries like Jamaica. It was founded by me, Moses Walusimbi, in January 2013. When I came to the Netherlands, I didn’t feel comfortable, since I was taken to an AZC where many homophobic people lived. It was very hard for me to do what I wanted to do and to feel safe, because it was hard to tell who was who. My solution was to set up Uganda Gay on Move, so that we can come together and socialise.

What are your plans regarding LGBT’s here in the Netherlands?

Uniting Ugandans, who were once like me not feeling free, helping to advise them on how to prowess with life in the Netherlands, and socially connecting them to other LGBT’s from different countries. When talking about homophobia in Uganda, most people are asking us: ‘Can that really happen?!’ The answer will be brought about in our activities, e.g. we would like to take stories form our members and turn them into theatre plays, music and dance performances to give more clarity on what is happening in our countries. And we are ready to move to schools, organisations and universities to try to fight the Kill the Gay Bill in Uganda and other countries. We also want to provide moral support and safety tips, i.e. creating AIDS awareness among members, and LGBT-rights awareness are also part of the activities we wish to do. During this short period, we have managed to reach out to many people, including those back home. Uganda Gay On Move is a promising group with at least 50 registered members and about 400 members online on our Facebook-page. It is a group run by volunteers who aim to achieve our goals. Our motto is: human rights are our pride. We strive for unity, collaboration between our members and other organizations.



Julius Matovu

Founder & Vice Chairman

Can you tell us more about yourself?

I am a proud Ugandan hailing from Uganda and currently residing in the Netherlands. I was a farmer and a businessman vending agricultural produce. I was a resident of Makindye Kampala Uganda. I left my country and fled to the Netherlands in December of 2012. However, since my arrival in the Netherlands, i feel so comfortable living here.

What is it like to live as an LGBT in Uganda?

Since I am  from Uganda, I have a very good idea of what it feels like to be LGBT in a land where you are hated. One lives a closeted life simply to live to the next day of your life without being what you are meant to be, or to live a life of isolation, segregation and hatred. The moment you are found out to be LGBT, your family, friends, workmates, and relatives all isolate you from further interaction simply because they think you are a contamination to them. You are considered an omen, a curse to the society, hence creating a stigma in LGBT, since the people say one needs to be punished to reform. Their belief is that no one is born gay. Much is done in order to change a gay person, like being taken to a witch doctor to spell the curse away, or to the religious leaders who pray for you claiming that the demon has possessed you to think in that line. In most cases, mob justice comes in if one is found out to be LGBT, since the public has been made to believe that homosexuals are targeting youngsters. This has been fueled by religious and political leaders. In churches or places of worship, homosexuality is preached against. Homosexuals are branded with names such as pumperman, Musasiro, buttman, muguzi was buutu, pupu eater, etc . These are all degrading and belittling because in most cases, LGBT society is not comfortable with being called disrespectful names. We are considered cockroaches who should be wiped out before we contaminate the new young Ugandan generations. LGBT are considered more dangerous than rapists. It is not safe for a LGBT to live in Uganda as an LGBT due to the following social, political, religious, and economic factors:

Socially, the public is not tolerant of the LGBT life, due to fears and hate instigated by politicians and religious leaders. The public is told that the moral values of LGBT people are to destroy the African culture and are sponsored by the Western countries, hence advocating to pass the Kill the Gays Bill in Uganda, proposed by David Bahati and supported by Simon Lokodo, who is the Minister of State Ethics.

Secondly, the religious leaders consider LGBT ungodly, unnatural, and evil, and their homosexual habits are here to promote satanic cultures, and thus they preach against them. The likes of pastors such as Martin Sempa and Male all backed by Scott Lively, an American Evangelical pastor.

Economically, after exposure, the LGBT in Uganda lose their jobs or employment due to segregation. They are vulnerable to risky practices such as drugs and illegal prostitution through which they end up contracting HIV/AIDS. Based on such grounds, I can conclude that it is not safe to be an LGBT in Uganda.

 Are there any organisations that support the LGBT community in Uganda?

 Yes, there is a variety of them, but they are not well known to the grassroots LGBT community. That is to say: not all of them know their operations and whereabouts. For example Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). It’s the most well known to the international community, but only a chosen few know it in Uganda, because their operation is suffocated by the government. Other organisations include St Paul, GEHO, Refugee Law Project and others.

What is Uganda Gay On Move?

 This is an initiative aimed at bringing about equality, unity, fairness, and human rights promotion of all LGBT’s, with a focus on African countries that violate LGBT human rights. In January 2013, I was contacted by my colleague Moses Walusimbi (CEO and founder), a fellow-countryman I had met on my first day in camp Ter Apel. He suggested an initiative to bring together all scattered LGBT and their straight ally Ugandans to feel united after what we all went through and to have a family in a foreign land. Hence the initiative of Uganda Gay On Move that I support. Together, we started this initiative. Others followed us who believed in our cause. From that day on, I embraced a new role to be the vanguard to see that our rights are respected. Thus I became a human rights activist of LGBT-advocacy through our aimed campaigns. Ever since then many people and organizations have joined the cause and supported us, be it LGBT or straight, through meetings or social media platforms (Facebook page: Uganda Gay on Move and twitter: UgGAYONMOVE). One of our main focus points is to stop the Kill the Gays Bill (anti-homosexuality bill) in Uganda through our campaigns. Based on statistics, we have 25 active and committed members who are always present at almost every event we organize. But our lists of attendance show that we have over 50 members who have at least attended one of our meetings or events. Regarding social media statistics, we have over 3,300 members following us on our Facebook page and we have over 375 members following us on Twitter. These followers are living worldwide and have supported us spiritually, financially, and with advice.

Do any international organizations do anything to support LGBT’s in Uganda?

 Organizations like Amnesty International, AIDS Coalition and Human Rights Watch all have given support through condemnation of the proposed anti-gay bill and continue to put pressure on the Ugandan government to reverse this bill. However, the government has not withdrawn it. We still have a long way to go.

 What are your plans regarding LGBT’s here in the Netherlands?

 We have many plans for the LGBT’s in the Netherlands, for example:

  • Unity. We hope to unite all LGBT through collective supporting events such as getting together, reunions and interactions with different LGBTs from all over the world.
  • Support of human rights through our campaigns, like peaceful demonstrations, and support and company for our colleagues when necessary during difficult times.
  • Create awareness through performing music, dance and drama, regarding all aspects of life that LGBTs go through in their home countries where homophobia is prevalent. We hope to approach different institutions on matters such as schools, colleges, and universities to allow us to perform our projects.
  • Create awareness and comfort in terms of health, through tips on staying alive and avoiding sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Create friendships and partnerships with other LGBT organizations/groups to air out our grievances in a foreign land. We act as a mouthpiece for a marginalized group from Uganda in the Netherlands. We found ourselves as refugees who seek protection.

NB: We invite whoever wants to volunteer to join us. That is to say voluntary legal aid, health practice volunteers and those interested in interacting with us on researching LGBT life in Uganda. We are a living example. However, we have no means by which to pay him or her financially but we hope our cooperation with that person would be the best of its kind.

 


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Rhoma Bugembe

Secretary

What is it like to live as an LGBT in Uganda?

You are living a closeted life. People are afraid to come out because of its repercussions such as hatred, mob justice, homophobic remarks from other people such as muguziwa buutu, lumpanka man, bum driller and feces eater. It’s not safe to be an LGBT in Uganda after coming out, thus hindering your human rights. Politically, the Kill Gay Bill is stirring a homophobic atmosphere to create insecurity for LGBT’s in Uganda. It was proposed by Bahati, Lokodo And Nsababutulo, Pastor Male and Pastor Sempa in 2009. With the support of Scott Lively, they have also catalyzed the situation of homophobia in Uganda through their campaigns of hate towards the LGBT’s. They say it is a Western culture aimed at destroying what God put in place.
Socially, the Ugandan masses view homosexuality as indecent, taboo, evil and abnormal. They are determined to fight it at any cost. It is no wonder the death of the famous activist David Kato, cannot be discussed. Many LGBT persons are tortured because of who they are. Economically, homosexuals cannot work when they are not closeted (being denied a right to their way of living); the moment your sexual orientation is known (gay or lesbian or any LGBT), you lose your job and your image will be warned against by others within the place of work. Hence staying in the closet for the rest of your life.

Are there any organisations in Uganda that support the LGBT community?

There are various LGBT organization in Uganda such as SMUG by Frank Mugisha, St Paul, SPAVOC and Refugee Law Project. But they work underground or in secrecy because the government warned them against promoting LGBT rights. Therefore, they are working but in suffocation; if an LGBT person needs support, it would take him ages to trace these organisations in Uganda. It is why our group is open. We have been contacted by LGBT’s from Uganda who don’t know how to get help. We recommend them to go to these organizations for support, advice, counseling and health advice.

What is Uganda Gay On Move?

Uganda Gay on Move is a human rights initiative to unite all Ugandan LGBT persons as one and to bring awareness regarding their rights, equality, morals, culture and health support. We are encouraging others to come out of the closet. It started at the end of December 2012 by Moses Walusimbi, who later introduced the idea to his colleague, Julius Matovu. They worked hand-in hand to invite other members to this initiative. Abby Kiwah (UK), Tim Mccarthy (US), Tony Rowe (US) and Peter Malony (Australia), have also embraced the initiative and have become the fathers of its ideas. On September 12, 2013, we launched with over fifty members in a ceremony that was held in AZC Dronten. We have managed to unite many LGBT persons, especially those from Uganda, in many ways as well as through our Facebook page; we organize meetings and several events, such as supporting our fellow LGBT’s in court and making sure we stand with them in support for who they are. We hope to go to AZCs to visit, unite and give courage and spiritual support to all our LGBT brothers and sisters in the Netherlands. We have shown our support to other oppressed LGBT’s from other parts of the world, such as the protest from Eric Lembembe of Cameroon, the Jamaican LGBT’s and Russian LGBT’s. We took part in the peaceful demonstration of the Russian Consulate in Amsterdam. We have managed to create bonds with other supportive LGBT groups such as Stitching Secret Garden, Peter Tachell Fonds, Anonymous LGBT and Out and Proud Diamond Group. Also, we have managed to create bonds with other human rights activists such as Abbey Kiwah, Tim Mccarthy, Melanie Nathan, Tony Rowe, Frank Mugisha, among others who focus on LGBT rights.
Regarding physical numbers of people involved through online meetings and luncheons, we manage to gather about 25 people during luncheons, simply because it is hard for our colleagues to travel to other places every time we organize a meeting. Therefore, the turnover is not as much as it is online. We have over 50 members in our registration books. And on our Facebook page, we have over 3,300 likes.

Do any international organisations do anything to support LGBT’s in Uganda?

There was much support, in terms of courage, moral, solidarity. Organisations include AIDS, Peter Tatched Fonds, Torontoist Support Gay No.

What are your plans regarding LGBT’s here in the Netherlands?

Uniting all LGBT’s, whether from Uganda or other parts of the world. Support in all aspects – financial, moral, courage, counseling, advice. Sensitization in safety tips for living a healthy life, such as information about protection and the prevention of STDs and AIDS. We also want to create awareness of all LGBT rights to those that don’t know. By support of voluntary legal practitioners, we hope to inform, teach, and explain the rights of LGBT, be it in Uganda or the diaspora. We hope to further extend our campaigns to educational institutions such as schools and universities to inform them of the situations that LGBT people go through in Uganda and what it means to be gay in that country. And we want to fight homophobia through campaigns such as sensitization or peaceful demonstrations., and to act as a mouthpiece of all LGBT, but from Uganda especially.
Also, we want to reduce isolation that LGBT’s might be feeling in communities and introduce them to Dutch society in a safe way. We want to improve the social climate and safety of LGBT immigrants in the Netherlands.


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Laura Nabongya

Treasurer


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Joseph Kavuma

Event Organiser


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Robert Katende

Spokesperson / Media Coordinator

Can you tell us more about yourself?

Discovering more about my homosexual feelings has been a gradual process. It took a lot of time since my childhood to eventually accept my homosexuality; it is not like you wake up one day and say that you are gay – it takes a lot of time. I passed through a lot of hardships and trials to finally accept that I am gay. Due to a lot of homophobia in Uganda, I could not share it with anyone. I felt like I was kind of abnormal and there was no way and no one I could tell so he or she could understand what I was going through. During primary school, I always hung around girls and most of my friends were girls, but I started developing feelings towards boys. Surprisingly, I thought I was the only one who was going through these feelings, because I never knew how to get in contact with other gay people – I never even knew that they existed. One evening, when I was hanging out with a friend of mine, a guy passed by, and my friend told me that the guy was expelled from school because he used to seduce other guys for gay sex. I looked at the guy, thought he was handsome, and I wanted to follow him to see where he was going. But I didn’t because my friend could suspect something unusual. I used to read about gay issues and at times I tried to date girls, but in my mind I knew that I was just wasting my time. Until I met someone during secondary school who had similar experiences. Luckily enough, we liked each other and we fell in love and life went on well. We treated each other like brothers and everyone at school and our parents thought that we were so friendly towards each other – they never had a clue that we were also lovers.

What is like to live as an LGBT in Uganda?

95 percent of the people in Uganda disapprove of homosexuality and there is a lot of homophobia levelled against the gay community – Uganda is the worst place to live for a homosexual. Once people find out you are gay, your life changes there and then. I went through a lot of difficulties that almost claimed my life. Many gays have been killed in Uganda, but there is either nothing at all written about that in newspapers, or the stories are distorted to protect the country’s international image. I was chased away from home, friends ignored me, I moved from place to place just to protect my life and I avoided public places to dodge the mob. Some of my friends in Uganda have been raped but they cannot report it to the police. Many lesbians have been raped, but people say that it was curative rape, which is even approved of by some people. Life is not easy there. Many gays are now in safe houses and they cannot go anywhere. It is like they are imprisoned in their own country. It takes a lot of effort and courage to accept your sexuality. When people think about gays, they immediately picture how we have sex, and they always perceive it as weird. Many people in Uganda are ignorant and there is no way you can explain to them how it feels to be a gay man; we are born this way and we feel happy this way, but people fail to understand it. The main problem in Uganda is that people think that we recruit young children to be homosexuals. They are always using this argument to bring hatred to us. The campaign is being led by a section of legislators and religious leaders. A Ugandan leading muslim cleric Sheik Ramandam Shaban Mubajje called for the LGBT community to be rounded up and exiled on an island on Lake Victoria until they die. Pentecostal pastor Martin Ssempa from the Makerere community church leads a coalition of christian churches against homosexuals. He also regularly organises anti-LGBT movements in Uganda and even shows gay porn to his followers just to shame us and cause more hatred towards the gay community. The newspapers also participate in this hatred, especially The Rolling Stone that published names of famous gays to be hanged that led to the death of gay activist David Kato. The Ugandan newspaper The Observer published an article on how to spot a gay man: they described the way we dress, the way we move and so on. There is also The Red Pepper tabloid, which up to this day continues to publish hatred news against gays. Many gays disappear for unclear reasons, and no one ever gets to know anything afterwards. We have no voice there. Even if you decide to be in the closet forever, people will still question you, because society expects you to have a wife and children. So in every case you will be outed. It is not safe there, not for me and not for other gays.

Are there any organisations in Uganda that support the LGBT community?

Yes, there are some organisations that support the LGBT community, but they cannot do much. They are limited by funds and many of them are illegal; they keep shifting from place to place, so even some gay people in Uganda cannot easily trace them. They cannot get medical attention with regards to sexually transmitted diseases, because those are not catered for in the government health programmes. The organisations also fear to be closed and tried in the courts of law. We have Farug, a lesbian organisation headed by Jackie kasha Nabagesera, and Ice Breakers Uganda on Salaama road in Kampala. I have been there a couple of times. This organisation helps with hiv tests and counseling, the distribution of condoms and lubricants for free. There are also the organisations Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), headed by Frank Mugisha, St Paul Centre and many others.

What is Uganda Gay On Move?

Uganda Gay On Move are LGBT’s running away towards safety, running away for their lives. As noted earlier, we have faced all kinds of problems in our country that prompted us to run away from there. We could not have a safe place anymore to live in and our lives were at the crossroads. So Uganda Gay On Move involves people running away from hatred, torture, forced marriages, mob justice and so forth. We fight for equality for everyone and we want to let the world know how difficult it is to live in Uganda.
Currently, there are more than 30 members in Uganda Gays On Move and we are hoping more people will support us. Everyone is welcome; we aim to fight for equality for everyone. And we hope many people who have been fearing to come out, will eventually come out and support our cause. As a member of Uganda Gay On Move and an assistant spokesman for the organisation, I offer my sincere thanks to the Secret Garden foundation, especially to Emir for his support with regards to fighting for our cause. I humbly thank you so much.

What are your plans regarding LGBT’s here in the Netherlands?

We want to come up as a group so that we can fight for equality for everyone in the world and make this world a better place for everyone to live in. We also want to show the world that a lot has to be done and to put more effort towards protecting the LGBT communities around the world. Look at what is happening in Russia, Eastern Europe and Africa. A lot has to be done towards protecting everyone; we need to sensitize people about human rights. Many people in Africa are ignorant, so it will be a long procedure, but people should hear about it all and help us to achieve our goals.


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Jude Kasangaki

Media Coordinator

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I’m Jude Kasangaki. I come from Uganda… and I’m gay and an activist.

Have you any idea about how homosexuality / homosexuals in Uganda and how LGBT people live there?

When you are gay in Uganda, you live in [constant] fear. You fear the government itself, you fear the community and you fear the reactions of your family members. If they know who you are, they will reject you from the community. They will treat you like you are “stinky”, filthy. [The worst part is] you have nowhere to turn to, because the legal authorities are also homophobic. There is also so much pressure to get married. If you do not get married, people start talking. Your community will assume that you might not want to get married because you are impotent. After you get medication, you should be fine to get married. This [pressure to get married], at the end of the day, makes your life difficult in a lot of ways. You might have feelings for [someone of the same sex], but you have to be with someone else and remain [closeted]. I was arrested with my partner in Uganda for being gay. My partner’s brother was in the opposition party [to the political party in power at the time], and the police said I was being accused of giving him confidential inside information. They said they were taking me in for political reasons, but at the same time they were questioning me about [my] sexual life. They asked me “what are you doing with him?” and “for how long have you been involved?”. They treated me harshly and even tortured me throughout the process. The government does not come out and say that they are looking for LGBT people.

Is there an organization that supports LGBTs in Uganda?

When I was in Uganda, I did not know of any organization that supported LGBT [people]. I did not know of any of these organizations until I came here. You can not support LGBT [people] in Uganda like you support them here, because Ugandan LGBT [people] live their lives without trying to be [outed or] seen as gay.

Can you tell me about “Uganda Gay on Move”?

We are a group of over 30 members. We are looking to establish ourselves and expose ourselves. One of the objectives of Uganda Gay on Move is to go to the Ugandan community, and show them that LGBT [people] are also people. There’s no problem with them. We are trying to change their whole perception of LGBT, which is really wrong. They really do not see it in the right way. However, we are hopeful. We think, with time, if this Ugandan community can accept us, we think back home they can still go and tell them “Look, we are in the Netherlands, but these people are okay. They’re not criminals, they are not diseased, so why don’t you leave them alone and let them live their life?” The government in Uganda has come out to protect [marginalized] people before. People with HIV used to be [sensationalized, stigmatized and] rejected by their communities. Eventually, the government came out and said people living with HIV were just like everyone else. HIV is a disease anyone can get. We hope, with time, the government will come out and defend LGBT people just like they defended people with HIV. Anyone can be gay. People in the families are gay. Ugandans can be LGBT or not LGBT.

How big is the Ugandan LGBT community in the Netherlands?

This is [a] complicated [question]. It is hard for us to find Ugandan LGBT members for Uganda Gay on Move because Ugandan LGBT [people] still live in hiding when they come here from Uganda. People do not [realize] here that when you come from a place like Uganda, you think the whole world is like Uganda. You do not know that [in] the Netherlands [it is] okay to be gay. So, it is hard for us to see how big the community is, because many of them are not out or visible. But we exist!

Do you have a plan for LGBT people here in the Netherlands?

We want to use our one strong voice of Uganda Gay on Move. We want to expose our group for everyone to see us. We want support so that we can change the IND [and their policies for LGBT asylum]. We want them to believe what we say. We want to support other LGBT asylum seekers, regardless of what country they come from. We want to sit outside their court [trials] and show our support for them. We want to change things for not only LGBT people here now, but for LGBT people to come in the future. We want them to know it is okay to be gay and Ugandan.


Leaders:

Founder and Chairman: Moses Walusimbi
Founder and Vice Chairman: Julius Matovu
Treasurer: Laura Nabongya
Assistant Tearsurer: Mulunji
Secretary: Rhona Bugembe
Media Coordinator/Spokesperson: Jude Kasangaki
Event Organiser: Joseph Kavuma

In Memoriam:
Isabella Atwine (Treasurer)

Mentors:

Tim McCarthy
Peter Maloney
Tony Rowe

Volunters:

Betty Mwesigwa (Photographer and Spiritual Advisor)
Andrew Bukenya (Spiritual Advisor)