Rights group: Members of Uganda's gay community fleeing the country
Feb 24, 2012, 14:57 GMT
Kampala - Members of Uganda's beleaguered gay community are fleeing the country because of worsening discrimination and harassment, a leading gay rights group said on Friday.
'We are not safe at all. Our members are receiving daily attacks from all sides. Some members of our community are running away from the country,' Julian Pepe Onziema, the head of the umbrella group Sexual Minorities Uganda, told dpa.
Three people fled to Nairobi after receiving death threats, Pepe added.
'Although some of our people have left and some plan to leave, me I am not leaving. I am receiving threats each day but I am staying in Uganda. I am not moving anywhere, let them kill me,' said Onziema.
Minister for Ethics and Integrity Simon Lotodo last week shut down a gay rights workshop, scaring an internationally-acclaimed human rights activist into hiding.
In an interview with dpa, Lotodo pledged to tighten the crackdown on gays and prevent the community from holding any more meetings.
Uganda has been facing international criticism and threats of shutting off aid from foreign donors since a tough anti-homosexual bill was introduced in parliament in 2009. The bill was shelved, but introduced again in January.
Under the draft legislation, leading a gay lifestyle would lead to automatic prison time and even the death penalty.
A year after the killing of prominent gay rights activist David Kato made international headlines last year, newspapers, government officials and preachers continue to launch verbal assaults on homosexuals. Attacks and threats against members of the community are still being reported.
Laws dating back to colonial times prohibit same-sex relations in Uganda but no one had ever been convicted of the offense.