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Uganda

LGBTQ Plus

Anti-Gay Law Leaves Nowhere To Turn For Uganda’s LGBTQ+

Disowned by their families, evicted by their landlords, and persecuted by the state, LGBTQ Ugandans have fewer and fewer places to turn.

KAMPALA — Just two days after the Ugandan Parliament passed the Anti-Homosexuality Act in March, Sam received a call. Her landlord asked her to leave the house she had been renting for almost two years in Kyebando-Kanyanya village, about 4 miles from Kampala.

When Sam, a lesbian who prefers to be identified by one name for fear of stigmatization, asked why she was being evicted, her landlord asked to meet her the following day in the presence of the local chairman (a village leader). She declined, asking for a one-on-one meeting. At the meeting, Sam’s landlord told her that her son, a human rights lawyer, warned her the new law would punish landlords who rent rooms to “homosexuals.”

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Seeds Of Doubt: East African Suspicions About GMOs And Food Security

East African concerns about food security are accompanied by farmers' concerns that they will not have sovereignty over their own crops in the wake of a push toward GMOs.

WAKISO, UGANDA— Outside her brick house in central Uganda’s Kavule village, Nalwoga Mary, 89, gently spreads out seeds of maize and beans on a tarpaulin. The seeds will be out in the sun all day, every day for almost a week until the moisture completely dries out. They will then be stored either in a plastic container or plastic carryout bags for use in the next growing season. Every harvest, Nalwoga saves around 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) of maize and bean seeds.

Spread over 3 acres of land, her farm has coffee, sweet potatoes, beans, maize and a Ugandan staple: matooke, a type of green banana grown in the country and other places in East Africa. Drying, storing and replanting the seeds is a routine she has followed for over 60 years now.

But a recent conversation with her coffee buyer has raised some apprehensions in Nalwoga’s mind. The buyer informed her about neighboring Kenya’s recent decision to cultivate and import genetically modified organisms and told her what that could mean for farmers like her in Uganda.

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The Western Organizations Funding Africa's LGBTQ+ Backlash

Uganda has signed a harsh anti-LGBTQ+ bill into law. It's part of a wider push back against "Western" values that's partly being funded by a global coalition.

Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni assented to the anti-homosexuality bill on May 26, 2023. The new law legislates, among other things, a 10-year jail term for “attempted homosexuality,” a 20-year jail term for “promotion of homosexuality,” a life sentence for “the offense of homosexuality” and a death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality.”

Previously there has been been historical surveillance and targeting of queer people in Uganda, but no penalties nearly as harsh as this.

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This is reflective of a spate of new laws across Africa. Their proponents argue that they protect the heterosexual African family and “African values” in a rejection of “Western norms”.

Similar laws have been proposed in Ghana and Kenya. In July 2021, members of Ghana’s parliament proposed the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill. In April 2023, a Kenyan member of parliament introduced a Family Protection Bill. Among other things, it prohibits sexual health services and sexual health rights education.

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The Bitter Core Of Uganda's Billion-Dollar Cocoa Industry: Economic Injustice

Many of Uganda’s small-scale farmers rely on someone else to dry their beans, a practice that keeps them in a cycle of poverty. A new processing factory aims to change that.

BUNDIBUGYO — It’s harvest day on Edson Sabite’s 4-acre cocoa plantation on the hilly slopes in the Bundibugyo region of western Uganda. His two brothers and two teenage sons are helping in the garden by cutting the cocoa pods, removing the beans and placing them in basins, which will later get dried in the sun and sold.

The rural town sits in the Bundibugyo region, in western Uganda, where cocoa beans thrive in a tropical expanse blessed with particularly fertile soil. The area produces more than 70% of the cocoa the country exports. Sabite earns more than many farmers, growing his cocoa on land four times the size of most of the surrounding cocoa farms.

He has the storage facilities to dry his cocoa beans and transport them to buyers, ensuring he gets the highest price possible. But Sabite’s story isn’t typical; most cocoa farmers have small holdings and lack the facilities to dry their beans to secure a higher price than if sold wet, or freshly picked. They are forced to rely on middlemen.

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LGBTQ Plus
Dennis Altman

What Explains Such Uneven Progress Of LGBTQ+ Rights Around The World

As LGBTQ+ rights continue to be a global struggle, there's a widening gap between countries making strides towards equality and those experiencing regression due to political, cultural, and religious opposition.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Foreign Minister Penny Wong joined 50,000 people to march in support of queer rights across the Sydney Harbour Bridge for World Pride in early March. A week earlier, Albanese became the first sitting prime minister to march in Sydney’s Mardi Gras, something he’s done over several decades.

And yet at the same time, in another part of the world, Uganda’s parliament passed a string of draconian measures against homosexuality, including possible death sentences for “aggravated homosexuality”. Any “promotion” of homosexuality is also outlawed.

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LGBTQ Plus
Pierre Haski

Why Is Homophobia In Africa So Widespread?

Uganda's new law that calls for life imprisonment for gay sex is part of a wider crackdown against LGBTQ+ rights that is particularly harsh on the African continent.

-Analysis-

Uganda has just passed a law that allows for life imprisonment for same-sex sexual relations, punishing even the "promotion" of homosexuality. Under the authoritarian regime of Yoweri Museveni for the past 37 years, Uganda has certainly gone above and beyond existing anti-gay legislation inherited from British colonization.

But the country of 46 million is not alone, as a wider crackdown against LGBTQ+ rights continues to spread as part of a wider homophobic climate across Africa.

✉️ You can receive our LGBTQ+ International roundup every week directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

There is exactly one country on the continent, South Africa, legalized same-sex marriage in 2006, and another southern African state, Botswana, lifted the ban on homosexuality in 2019. But in total, more than half of the 54 African states have more or less repressive laws providing for prison sentences.

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Society
Edna Namara

The Mushroom Industry Helping Ugandan Women To Grow Independent

To meet the need, Uganda trains farmers to grow the nutrient-rich fungi. Many beneficiaries are women seeking financial independence.

BUSHENYI — Dorothy Basemera Otim loves a hot bowl of wild mushroom gravy. The retired Ugandan news editor and television personality says for as long as she can remember, she has looked forward to the annual season when suddenly mushrooms spring out of the ground. But lately, that has been rare and unpredictable.

“In the last three years mushrooms have come twice and in different seasons,” she says, as she bends over to pluck some.

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Society
Nakisanze Segawa

The HIV-Positive Ugandans Putting Anti-AIDS Campaign At Risk

“Elite controllers” are those who have HIV but show no symptoms. They’re proving a roadblock to the country’s otherwise promising anti-infection campaign.

LWENGO, UGANDA — Ahmed was certain the test result was wrong. It was 2003, and he and his five months-pregnant wife were at a health facility where she was getting a checkup. As staff did for all expectant parents, a worker prodded them to get tested for HIV. Ahmed’s wife tested negative. He did not. “I thought it was impossible, that my results must have been mistakenly switched with another person’s,” he says. That week, he took two more tests. Both confirmed he was infected with the virus that causes AIDS.

Health workers and Ahmed’s four wives begged him to start antiretroviral therapy, a cocktail of medications that prevents the virus from multiplying and reduces a person’s likelihood of spreading HIV and developing AIDS. At the time, Ahmed was in his early 40s; to his family, forgoing treatment seemed like courting a premature death. But he didn’t feel sick — no fever, chills or other symptoms — so he refused. Accepting treatment would have meant accepting a diagnosis he didn’t entirely believe, and the stigma that came with it.

Ahmed lives in Lwengo, a town about 165 kilometers (102 miles) southwest of Kampala, the capital. Amid a sweep of banana, cassava and coffee fields, small, white-roofed houses, and tarmacked roads, HIV is something to hide lest neighbors shun or mock a person as a “walking dead.” (That’s why Ahmed asked to be identified only by his first name.)

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LGBTQ Plus
Laura Valentina Cortés, Inès Mermat, Renate Mattar and Hugo Perrin

LGBTQ+ International: Lithuanian Fairy Tales, Egypt Dating App Gangs — And Other News

Welcome to Worldcrunch’s LGBTQ+ International. We bring you up-to-speed each week on a topic you may follow closely at home, but can now see from different places and perspectives around the world. Discover the latest news on everything LGBTQ+ — from all corners of the planet. All in one smooth scroll!

This week featuring:

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LGBTQ Plus
Laura Valentina Cortès Sierra, Riley Sparks, and Hugo Perrin

LGBTQ+ International: UK v. Scotland On Gender, Uganda Ends “Vagabond” Laws — And Other News

Welcome to Worldcrunch’s LGBTQ+ International. We bring you up-to-speed each week on a topic you may follow closely at home, but can now see from different places and perspectives around the world. Discover the latest news on everything LGBTQ+ — from all corners of the planet. All in one smooth scroll!

This week featuring:

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Green
Apophia Agiresaasi

As Air Quality Worsens, Kampala Citizens Find It Difficult to Breathe

Kampala’s air quality is much worse than globally accepted standards, but several interventions are being instituted to avert its effects.

KAMPALA, UGANDA — There’s something in Kampala’s air. Philomena Nabweru Rwabukuku’s body could tell even before she went to see a doctor. The retired teacher and her children used to get frequent asthma attacks, especially after they had been up and about in the city where there were many vehicles. It was worse when they lived in Naluvule, a densely populated Kampala suburb where traffic is dense.

“We were in and out of hospital most of the time. [The] attacks would occur like twice a week,” Nabweru says.

Her doctors blamed the air in Kampala, which is nine times more polluted than the World Health Organization’s recommended limit, according to a 2022 WHO report. By comparison, Bangladesh, the country with the world’s worst air pollution, is 13 times the recommended limit.

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Society
Beatrice Lamwaka

Why Uganda Doesn’t Drink Its Own Coffee

In Uganda, people grow coffee to export but rarely consume it themselves. Now a push to dispel myths about the beverage and introduce new ways to use the beans is changing that.

WAKISO — There are many reasons Ugandans give for not drinking coffee. Olivia Musoke heard it causes vaginal dryness. When she was breastfeeding her children, people also told her it would dry up her breast milk.

Musoke grows coffee, bananas and cassava. The mother of five from Mukono, in central Uganda, has been a coffee farmer for more than 42 years. Although the cassava and bananas she plants are for her own consumption, she has tasted only a handful of coffee beans after a friend said they would keep her alert in her old age. She sells most of the coffee she harvests.

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