On 20th December 2013, the LGBTI Community in Uganda woke up to the grim news that the Anti-Homosexuality bill, which had been shelved at the end of 2012, had been passed by Parliament. The bill was passed without quorum and without prior mandatory inclusion on the Parliament Order Paper. The bill was then signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni February 2014, and it poses a grave danger to the safety, dignity, and basic human rights of LGBTI people, and is a disaster to public health and the fight against HIV/AIDS.
President Museveni signed the bill into law after requesting scientists to prove whether homosexuality was genetically caused; they subsequently found no evidence, and this has solidified the notion that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice being forced upon “the children.” The president claims that Ugandans are “flabbergasted” by homosexual activity, but this is clearly due to an environment where LGBTI persons fear for their safety, and thus keep to themselves. We at Voices of the Abasiyazzi believe that visibility is crucial, and that intolerance towards LGBTI persons becomes difficult- if not impossible- once Ugandans realize they know LGBTI persons themselves.
Voices of the Abasiyazzi is, at the heart of it, a visibility project. We do not wish to swoop in and try to “fix things”- that is unsustainable and simply not possible. Instead, we at Voices aim to supply Ugandans with the tools they need to create change, to seize control of the dialogue around sexuality. We are in the process of distributing cameras to Ugandans for the purpose of conducting interviews where LGBTI persons can tell their stories. We are also developing a website that will act as a hub for these videos. This will serve two audiences 1.) LGBTI Ugandans, who will see their stories represented and told by others. The hope is to empower LGBTI Ugandans and to encourage dialogue, and thus a community. 2.)Non-LGBTI folks. The hope is that the videos might humanize a highly stigmatized and de-humanized group of people.
Phase 1 of our project was successful- cameras provided by Tim and the Center for Independent Documentaries were distributed to LGBTI Ugandans. We traveled around Uganda and did interviews with people and edited those interviews into short clips that a person can view through our website on their phones in the privacy of the palm of their hands.
You will see in the clip above, that in addition to doing this initial work and partnering with LGBTI Ugandans, we have also put ourselves on the line and are committed to facilitating change. When the Ugandan government silenced the media, we attended a protest and were attacked by the Ugandan Riot Police. This footage was used by the US Embassy in Kampala and sent by the embassy to all the other embassies in Kampala. Amnesty International is also using the video to show the brutality of the Ugandan regime.
In Phase 2, we want to fund LGBTI Ugandans themselves to do interviews with other LGBTI Ugandans about their lives and hopes, the process of coming out, and how individuals have dealt with it. As stated, these interviews will be the basis of the website, and will later be compiled for a documentary film.
We have several incentives for funding our project listed to the right side of this page. For example; for $60 you can produce an interview with a LGBTI Ugandan, a straight ally or an organization that deals directly with LGBTI Ugandans. Your name will be listed as producer on the video alongside the interviewer and the editor. You will receive a personal thank-you email along with a picture of the interviewer and the interviewee.
Individual Interview Dennis Wamala - https://vimeo.com/album/
Group Interview - Treasure Uganda - https://vimeo.com/album/