It is the government who had to answer for illegal behaviour of its agents by discriminating against homosexual and transgender people. Government officials raided the home of Victor Juliet Mukasa, an LGBT Human Rights Defender, in 2005, and illegally arresting a guest they found in her home. They forced their way into Victor’s home, stole many work documents, dragged her guest to Kireka police post, and forced the guest to strip naked in order to prove that she was a woman. The guest and Victor Juliet Mukasa were treated in a degrading and inhumane way. Many of us, as the Ugandan LGBTI community, have suffered similar injustice. We are here today to proclaim that these human rights violations are completely unacceptable. We have had enough of the abuse, neglect, and violence.
No person should be deprived of their constitutional rights; and homosexuals and transgender people are no exception. All people are equal under the law.
Therefore, we step into the public today to give a face to the many who are discriminated against every day in our country. Some of us have brought our faces before you for you to know us. But many of us come before you today with masks to represent the fact that you see homosexuals and transgender people every day without realising that it is what we are. We do not harm anyone. We are your doctor, your teacher, your best friend, your sister, maybe even your father or son.
As Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), the umbrella organisation for Ugandan lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex organisations, there are two urgent issues we would like you to consider. HIV/AIDS is a concern for all of us in this country. And yet many people ignorantly turn a blind eye as we die of HIV/AIDS because we as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people do not have proper access to protection, care, and treatment. We cannot continue to ignore the people in this country who are most at risk because of unfair discrimination and stigma. To successfully stop HIV/AIDS, we must treat every person with the dignity and attention they deserve. No one can justify taking away a person’s right to live, when protection and treatment should be readily available to all.
Secondly, as Sexual Minorities Uganda, we would like to publicly acknowledge the police for their leadership in reinforcing justice in this country by speaking out against hate crimes and discrimination of human beings because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Leaders in the police force have recently made great steps toward upholding the law in a just and fair manner, providing equal protection for all people against harm. Likewise, we also urge LDUs to help to end the persecution of minorities, particularly lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, and intersex people, by acting in an upright and lawful manner in the course of their duties, respecting and protecting the dignity of all human beings.
Finally, to our communities, our schools, places of work, our families, we would like to end by passing on the wisdom of so many of our parents, who have known us and seen that we are born this way and are still their beloved children.