When Ugandan LGBT activist Clare Byarugaba woke up and turned on her phone on February 28, 2014, she was greeted by the same ominous message over and over: "Have you seen the newspaper?" A few days before, the president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, had signed into law a bill that punished certain sexual acts between two people of the same gender with life in prison and threatened incarceration for those who provided services and support to the LGBT community. In response, a popular tabloid newspaper ran Byarugaba's name and photo on its front page that day with the headline "Top Ugandan Gays Speak Out: How We Became Homos."
"All I could think of was, Oh, my God, my mom!" recalls Byarugaba, whose voice catches as she describes her mother's response: She threatened to hand her daughter over to the police. Byarugaba left town, fearing for her life after receiving death threats on her phone and via social media. She had seen what happened to out gays and lesbians in her country. In 2011 Uganda's most visible LGBT activist, David Kato, was bludgeoned to death with a hammer shortly after another tabloid splashed his photo on its front page under a banner that read, "Hang Them."
As the co-coordinator of the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, an LGBT advocacy group, Byarugaba worried that something similar might happen to her. Speaking out and organizing against her government's anti-LGBT rhetoric had made her vulnerable. Read more via Essence