Nicholas Opiyo, who runs the human rights group Chapter Four Uganda, has expressed his sorrow for the victims of the Orlando massacre yesterday, while also decrying Ugandan attitudes towards homosexuality.
Opiyo told Voice of America that while news of the shooting was not widespread in Uganda, those who know about it were horrified by the events of Sunday morning, in which 49 people at Pulse club were killed by gunman Omar Mateen.
"The few people who watch cable news are shocked at the utter brutality of some people in the US," he said, adding: "And in terms of our leadership, they have used that type of violence against our own people here in Uganda."
Opiyo continued: "While we may not take guns and shoot people the way people in Orlando have done, but here we do not see any possibility of gay people freely expressing themselves, even in private in disco halls, let alone walking in the middle of town holding hands. If that happens, they will be beaten, they will be chased; they would be stoned".
LGBT people face widespread prejudice in Uganda, and the country only recently avoided President Yoweri Museveni's plan to make homosexuality punishable by 14 years' imprisonment, with the death sentence for "repeat offenders".
He got as far as getting the bill through Parliament, but it was struck down by a constitutional court for not following legal procedure; three lawmakers objected to a lack of quorum (the minimum number of members of an assembly or society that must be present at any of its meetings to make the proceedings of that meeting valid).
Worldwide condemnation had its impact, and the bill was shelved, at least for now.
Solidarity shown by the human rights' group for the Orlando victims is poignant at a time when Ugandan LGBT people still live with their own fears on a daily basis, and can be seen as further proof that the LGBT movement is a global family.
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