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Brenda, a Ugandan lesbian in danger in her own country, should stay in France

Wednesday 16 March 2011

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Brenda has had to flee Uganda. She arrived in France on the 17th February, and is claiming asylum.
Belonging to a sexual minority in Uganda means suffering discriminations, violence and imprisonment.

For years, the Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni has made homophobic speeches, inciting hatred towards lesbians, gays, bi and transsexuals.
He is supported in this by the Minister for Ethics, James Buturo, and by two evangelists : the MP David Bahati, and the pastor Martin Ssempa.

The American evangelist group Family has chosen Uganda as the guinea pig for its homophobic crusade. With the aid of sermons and dollars, this crusade has revived a deadly homophobic movement. In acts of solidarity, other religious representatives have relayed these homophobic sermons.

The president Museveni, the MP Bahati, the minister Buturo and the priest Ssempa are all linked to the Family. Already in 1999, Museveni ordered the imprisonment of all homosexuals. In June 2008, in Kampala, SMUG (Sexual Minority Uganda) activists were arrested at an AIDS conference.

On the 3 October 2009, the Ugandan parliament proposed a bill which will condemn homosexuals to life imprisonment, with corrective rape for lesbians. The text provides for the death sentence for HIV-positive people, and encourages public denunciation. The international community supported the Ugandan LBGT community at that time, and protested against this criminal bill.

Local media in Uganda unfortunately supports this state-led homophobia. Newspapers have several times published photos of people identified as lesbian, gay, bi or transsexual. A photo of Brenda, stamped “lesbian”, made the front page of the tabloid Red Pepper last October. Some time later, she and her companion attended the funeral of David Kato, gay SMUG activist, and became front-page news. Videos were circulated.

Since then, both of them have become the object of police intimidation, threats, and acts of violence. They were evicted from their home. Brenda managed to get to France, but her companion was arrested and imprisoned before she could flee. She is still in prison today.

Brenda has a one-month visa; after this, she could be deported by the French authorities.

In 2009, the French government, through their spokesperson Rama Yade, boasted of having presented a declaration to the UN seeking to decriminalise homosexuality worldwide. This concern for persecuted sexual minorities should be shown by welcoming them on French soil.

Act Up-Paris demands :
 that Brenda be given asylum in France
 that the new Minister for Foreign Affairs Alain Juppé declare his opposition to the genocide of lesbians, gays, bi and transsexuals in Uganda
 that the French government within the UN demand that an international resolution be taken against all homophobic states.