This is a guest post by Kristin Rawls. Kristin Rawls is a contributor at Religion Dispatches, Global Comment and Bitch Magazine.
Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, popularly dubbed the Kill-the-Gays bill, is back before the Ugandan Parliament. It could be brought for a vote in the Lower House at any moment.
Now is the time to urge the State Department to follow through on its December promise to help support LGBTQ human rights throughout the world.
Contact the State Department and the White House to urge the following:
• The US should apply swift diplomatic pressure on President Yoweri Museveni and Uganda’s diplomatic community to bring this bill to an end once and for all. It is not enough to send it back to committee. We are not going to forget about it, and Uganda’s LGBTQ community cannot continue to live under threat of execution.
• As with any diplomatic endeavors, the US must tread carefully. Rescinded food and development aid could lead to an immediate violent backlash against the LGBTQ community in the country. Ugandan activists in the country are indicating that they need diplomatic help, but that this should not include lost aid. The Obama administration must put the safety of LGBTQ Ugandans first.
• The United States must end its policy of deporting LGBTQ Ugandans back to their home country. Supporting LGBTQ human rights around the world means prioritizing asylum claims by LGBTQ people from countries like Uganda.
As with any diplomatic efforts undertaken by major powers, the question may arise as to whether it is “neocolonialist” for the US to pressure Uganda. This is not the time for that discussion, as grassroots LGBTQ organizations in Uganda are requesting international support and human lives are now at stake. Not to mention, as Jeff Sharlet pointed out today, discussions of neocolonialism might first turn their attention to US military aid for Uganda (most recently, in the form of drones), as well as the influx of extremist Christian Right agitators from the United States.
If you feel moved to provide financial assistance to the cause, the largest and most influential advocacy organization in capital city, Kampala, is Sexual Minorities Uganda. Helmed by award-winning activist and writer, Frank Mugisha, the organization is the first place to go if you want to help. Give money, and give generously as you are able. SMUG organizers live under threat of death and violence every day. They deserve the full support of LGBTQ communities and activists throughout the West.