Activities and events to mark the beginning of Gay Pride Week took place in Uganda yesterday.
This particular celebration will make it the fifth year Ugandans have marked the annual event.
In 2012 when the Gay Pride Week parade first held, police had broken it up.
The celebrations often include parties in popular nightclubs and events to raise awareness about the health issues faced by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
Anti-gay legislation allowing life imprisonment for ‘aggravated homosexuality’ and banning the ‘promotion of homosexuality’ was annulled by Uganda’s supreme court last two years.
A very negative attitude, however, still exists among most of the citizenry and homosexuality is punishable by a jail sentence. It is also not uncommon for gay Ugandans to face discrimination and threats of violence from other citizens.
For this year’s celebration, the week will culminate in a parade held in the capital Kampala for the first time ever. This will require tight security for the over 300 people expected to be present who include people from neighboring states.
At last year’s rally, crowds had danced, sang and waved rainbow flags in hopes that, as one person had put it, “it would be a step forward for the country”. One of those who had marched last year was quoted by the BBC as saying;
“It is about trying to show the wider community that violence, discrimination, harassment, stigma against LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people is bad…So we are here to send a message to the wider population that we do exist, and we want rights like any other Ugandan.”
Activists will be tweeting about Gay Pride Week throughout the week, so twitter is the place to go for regular updates.