Uganda: The Gay Pride festival defied local law and taboo

Members of the Ugandan LGBT community celebrated their annual Pride Uganda festival this weekend, defying strict laws criminalizing homosexuality with up to 14 years in jail. Crowds of Ugandans traveled to the shores of Lake Victoria to walk in the festival’s gay pride parade, which was held at a secluded botanical garden 30 miles outside the nation’s capital of Kampala. 

Gay rights activists and allies marched, chanted and danced in the small parade, many waving rainbow flags and wearing colorful masks to conceal their identities. The celebration was part of the five-day Pride Uganda festival, which provided a rare occasion for members of the LGBT community to gather together openly. Many LGBT Ugandans are forced to keep their identities secret, as same-sex relationships are punishable by up to 14 years in prison in the country. 

Not everyone was celebrating. The youngest of 20 brothers and sisters, Badru, a man from Kampala, was thrown out of his home because his family discovered he was gay. Homeless, unemployed and born HIV positive, Badru said he has nothing to celebrate about at Pride Uganda: “Today is rights day but I don’t know what I should be celebrating about when I have so many difficulties,” he said. “Pride is meaningless to me.”

Still, many LGBT Ugandans expressed their desire to live as authentically as possible, despite the almost daily threats of homophobic-based violence. Read More