In a beachside town just outside the capital of Kampala, LGBTQ Ugandans held their fourth annual pride parade on Saturday despite the ongoing threat of persecution.
This was not quite the fearless, open celebration they would have preferred. The parade was held in a secluded spot and restricted to those with an invite, for fear of harassment and retribution against participants.
“I just want to get to that point where we can even have it in town and we are so proud, waving our flags high and all that,” said Shivan Pavin, one of the young Ugandans at the parade.
One of the organizers of this year’s pride week, 28-year-old Richard Lusimbo, says there’s been less police harassment of LGBTQ Ugandans, but homophobic and transphobic attitudes in the wider community are still hard to shift.
“We continue to see an increase in cases of violence and discrimination from members of the community. Many members of the community have been evicted from homes and others are thrown out of home by family,” he told Fusion.
The week included a cocktail party, a movie night, and a beauty contest leading up to Saturday’s parade:
None of the locations for the events were publicly disclosed. “Safety for the members of the community comes first and that meant the choice of venues had to be a high end. Having some the locations private, this is to allow members of the community to participate fully at ease,” Lusimbo said.
Last year, Uganda’s highest court repealed the Anti-Homosexuality Act, a law which openly allowed for the persecution of LGBTQ people. Since then, politicians have threatened to re-introduce the act or introduce aspects of it in other guises, like a law that targets the “promotion” of homosexuality.
But Lusimbo and others will continue to celebrate pride week every year, waiting for the day they can parade down a main street in Kampala with the rainbow flag without fearing for their lives.
Video by Serginho Roosblad for Fusion.