The Network is taking action in regard to a deadly Covid 19 outbreak in a Lesbian safe house in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. We were contacted via Twitter late last week y the lead of the safe house who was calling out for help internationally to our LGBT+ community, as the Coronavirus had broken out in the safe house, with one person dead so far and others very ill.
As many readers of this news announcement will be aware Uganda is one of the most brutally homophobic countries in the world with an infamous record on torture murders and public humiliations of LGBT people and those suspected of not being heterosexual or cisgender: the source of the problem being religious / Christian fundamentalist views of virulently anti-LGBT kinds. The country has anti-LGBT laws that have ultimately been derived from the influence of the latter, meaning there are no legal protections for community members; in fact the reverse.
For more on the terrible realities of what it is like to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans or non-binary in Uganda, please visit this searing article by Pink News that the safe house lead provided to us at the Network: https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2020/05/11/lgbt-uganda-homeless-shelter-arrest-coronavirus-laws-kampala-sky-news/
Consequently those at the safe house face a double peril: from the virus, and from the fear of the authorities and vigilante Christian extremist gangs that seek out LGBT and suspected LGBT people to persecute, torment, and often murder. For this reason help has not been able to be sought from the authorities regarding the Covid 19 outbreak. Only instead by a desperate and very courageous outreach to the international LGBT community to make us aware of the plight of those at the safe house.
The Network has therefore advised the basic, protection action and safety measure of the safe house lead contacting the British High Commissioner (BHC) of Uganda, Ms Kate Airey. We are following up directly on this with Ms Airey, and are asking for the BHC to provide all possible assistance to those at the safe house (the request made by it’s lead being for Covid 19 related PPE, testing, etc.).
The Network follow up to the British High Commissioner involves Stonewall having direct awareness of the situation and the Network request. We believe that in this way a from the UK LGBT+ community (and community support organisations such as the Network and Stonewall), much more deepened relationship with the BHC in Uganda can assist our community members there, and of course the BHC itself. We are aware of some infamous anti-LGBT ‘Hostile Environment’ cases by Home Office, UK Immigration (UKVI) in regard to Ugandan LGBT community members, so it is important that the relationship mentioned be developed, to assist both community and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
In our email to the British High Commissioner, Uganda we also request information on exactly what the BHC (FCDO) has been achieving and involved in regard to direct LGBT+ community engagement and support: this information once provided will assist us and every party concerned.