by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
Uganda's presidential election looms as SGN goes to press.
The election is scheduled for Friday, February 18, less than one month after Gay activist David Kato was beaten to death in his home.
Uganda's infamous 'Kill the Gays' bill has become an issue in the election as one candidate, Kizza Besigye, called for same-sex relations to be decriminalized.
Besigye is reportedly the main challenger to incumbent president Yoweri Museveni, the protégé of the U.S.-based Christian-right group The Family.
This is the third time Besigye has run against Museveni. His two previous runs earned him jail time and a five-year exile in South Africa.
Another candidate, Olara Otunnu, escaped with only minor injuries from a reported assassination attempt on February 14. Three members of his staff were hospitalized as a result of the attempt, however.
Meanwhile, BBC reporter Scott Mills was chased out of Uganda by David Bahati, author of the 'Kill the Gays' bill.
Bahati reportedly became enraged when Mills revealed he is Gay during an interview, and summoned armed police who pursued Mills to his hotel. Mills subsequently escaped to the airport and left Uganda.
SGN has been in correspondence with a Gay Ugandan activist, identified only as GayUganda.
A personal friend of David Kato, GayUganda wrote a moving tribute to him on his blog, gayuganda.blogspot.com.
His answers to questions from SGN follow:
SGN: What is the situation for the LGBT community now, in the wake of David's murder, and with the presidential election coming?
GayUganda: Situation & well, we are all tenser than usual. Something like this happening hits home.
Are we safer than we were before? Are we more at risk? Fear of copycat crimes, fear of what else is going to happen. No, we don't feel very safe. But, I think, as usual, we shall get thru yet another crisis.
The presidential election & I believe there will be a return of the old guard. That means that nothing is going to change. What is important is that the old parliament will be also ending its session. And, hopefully, without debating the anti-homosexuality bill. But, that is yet to be seen.'
SGN: Kizza Besigye has come out for decriminalizing homosexuality. Is this a credible promise? Will Museveni hold on to power?
GayUganda: Museveni will be the next president & whatever it takes. You think the lessons of Egypt have taken root here? I don't think so. Besigye, I am not sure what he was thinking to say what he said. Maybe just a gimmick & I don't know.
SGN: I've read that David Bahati sent police after a BBC reporter. Is Bahati as crazy as he seems from that report?
GayUganda: LOL, Bahati, whether I like him or not, is a very good politician. I believe the AHB [Anti-Homosexuality Bill] was sponsored at the behest of the president.
Bahati got lots of credits for sponsoring it, for pushing on, for seeming to be such a fool to the outside world. He has been rewarded. He is treasurer for the ruling party. He has secured his place into the next parliament. He can easily become a minister & and, am wondering whether he will not be the next minister of ethics and integrity & but, that is speculation.
Fact is, Bahati is flying high, politically speaking. He is a young parliamentarian, and this was his first session.
GayUganda also referred SGN readers to his blog, where the latest post remembers his friend David Kato.
He also recommends Scott Mills' documentary The Worst Place to be Gay. This is the film Mills was working on when he interviewed Bahati and unexpectedly had to flee the country.
'Thanks, Mills,' GayUganda writes. 'You don't know it, but you have put words to something that I, having grown up here, and known what you see as my 'normal' life, I don't know how to put in words.
'But, that will not stop me from seeking something that I know I deserve because I am human. A freedom, that belongs to me because I can give it to me.'
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