James Lotter, SRC deputy secretary and chairperson of Daso at Tuks said, “What is happening in Uganda is a serious case of human rights abuse. We, as Daso, advocate for human rights and are joining this protest today to show support for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters there.” He added that the South African government’s failure to condemn the passing of the bill is a sign of its lack of commitment to the protection of human rights.
National DA Youth leader Mbali Ntuli also attended the protest. “We are happy to see young people fighting for human rights. No government has the right to tell people who to love,” she said. Ntuli also said that the aim of the protest was to get the South African government to publicly condemn the bill as unacceptable and to offer asylum to gay and lesbian Ugandans who were “ousted” by the media there.
Shortly after Ntuli’s arrival, the police arrived and told the protesters that it was an illegal gathering as they had not applied to the city council for permission to gather and protest.
“We were only expecting 15 people but evidently many young people feel strongly about the issue and that is why they are here,” Ntuli said.
Some locals also joined in the protest. Howard Armistead, an American HIV activist, said that people must be concerned with the gross human rights violations in Uganda. “Every person in the world must be denouncing what happened in Uganda,” he said.
On 24 February, President Yoweri Museveni signed the anti-gay bill into law despite resistance from gay rights groups and western donors. “There is no scientific justification for homosexuality, it is just a matter of choice,” Museveni said. US Secretary of State John Kerry has compared the law to apartheid in South Africa.
Last week Tuesday, the Department of International Relations released a statement saying that they took note of developments regarding the situation of lesbians, gays, bisexual, transsexual and intersex persons (LGBTI) in the world but did not condemn Uganda’s new law.
“We are disappointed in the government’s handling of the issue. We want them to condemn the law, merely taking note of it is not enough,” Ntuli said.
Juanita Kallychurn, a second-year LLB student and Daso member, said, “We [Daso] support the gay and lesbian community because of the persecution they experience, in this country and on the continent as a whole. I am here because I believe in equality for all people regardless of race, religion or sexuality.”
Third-year BEd student Kholwa Shingwenyana said, “I am bisexual and I have a right to love whoever I want to love. Sentencing someone to life in jail just because they are gay is just the same as taking their lives.”
The Ugandan officials did not respond to the protest.
Photo: Brad Donald