Keeping it in the room: health, happiness and living in Berlin
In a move likely to be seen by many as a poor attempt at humour, Uganda Tourism and business leaders have promised their country is safe for LGBT people to travel to, in a meeting with the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA).
Accusing the Western media of portraying their nation in a particularly poor light since the introduction of the ‘anti homosexuality’ law, which was struck down earlier this year, IGLTA’s President John Tanzella said the delegates had requested the meeting as an attempt to restore their reputation, both among gay and straight travellers.
The meeting was held at the invitation of the Africa Travel Association at a convention in the US. Tanzella told So So Gay: ‘The delegation said that gay people are welcome. They were very concerned about the perception of Uganda in Western Europe and North America, and claimed that the backlash caught them by surprise. No-one thought it would pass. The delegates all pointed out that they have friends and family who are gay.’
However, Tanzella confirmed that Uganda is not yet welcome to join the IGLTA, and would have to go through a ‘process of education’ if she were to apply for membership.
The anti-homosexuality’ law – originally dubbed the ‘Kill the Gays Bill’ due to the proposed death penalty it included – was described by Dimitrina Petrova, Executive Director of the Equal Rights Trust, as ‘pernicious’ and pointed out that it violated many fundamental human rights of LGBT people in Uganda, including the right to a private life, the right to dignity and the right to equality.
As So So Gay reported in May, Uganda has experienced a spate of kidnappings following the introduction of the failed law, and was expected to undergo a health crisis as people had reduced access to health services and HIV prevention information.
In April, police raided a US-funded HIV research and treatment centre that provides health information and services to LGBTI people. The police claimed the centre was ‘recruiting’ people into homosexuality, despite the health minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, publicly pledging that health services would be provided to LGBTI people in a non-discriminatory way.