Uganda has managed to cram an awful lot of history into its few decades of independence - or should that be a lot of awful history. From Idi Amin to the Lord's Resistance Army, Uganda has suffered dictatorship, war, dictatorship, war, dictatorship and war. And the Ebola virus. And then some more war.
"Discussing Uganda" is, however, a pleasant activity to be performed with someone you rather like. It was coined after an incident at a 1970s London party at the journalist Mary Kenny had a "meaningful confrontation" with a former Ugandan cabinet minister. Her excuse that they were "upstairs discussing Uganda" became a Private Eye catchphrase.
Uganda has been described as the 'world's worst place to be gay' (right after Saudi Arabia, Iran or Daeshistan) and the death penalty may soon be introduced for homosexuality. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill would allow the death penalty to be extended to citizens who have previous convictions, are HIV positive, or engage in sex acts with people under 18 years of age. The bill includes provisions for Ugandans who engage in homosexual acts outside of the state, who may be extradited. It also includes penalties for any companies, individuals or media organizations that support gay rights. Unsurprisingly, the prevalent homophobic attitude owes much to the influence of Christian churches under the leadership of Scott Lively, which receives a significant amount of funding from evangelical organisations in the USA. The bill was passed by Parliament in December 2013 and signed into law in February 2014, but annulled by the Constitutional Court that August.
In June 2012, the country's "ethics and integrity minister" Simon Lokodo announced a ban on 38 LGBT-related NGOs.
Kanungu cult massacre
In March 2000, between 700 and 1000 followers of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, a Roman Catholic splinter group, were killed by its leadership in Kanungu province in southwest Uganda, mostly trapped inside a church which was then set on fire. The movement was founded in the late 1980s by Credonia Mwerinde and Joseph Kibweteere (who both claimed to have seen visions of the Virgin Mary) and others including defrocked nuns and other former Catholics; it called for strict adherence to the Ten Commandments and had several strange prohibitions including reportedly bans on sex and soap. The cause of the massacre is unclear, but the most likely explanation is that they had been expecting the Apocalypse on 31 December 1999, many selling their possessions and making other preparations, and when it failed to happen the church members grew angry or restless; there are claims of murder or torture in the run-up to the massacre. It is believed the movement's five leaders all perished in the fire, although that isn't confirmed, and there are still rumors that they are in east Africa.
- The World's Worst Place to be Gay; Documentary on the BBC presented by Scott Mills
- See the Wikipedia article on Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014.
- Tim Walker, "How Uganda was seduced by anti-gay conservative evangelicals", The Independent, 14 March 2014
- Uganda court annuls anti-homosexuality law, BBC News
- David Smith, "Uganda bans 38 organisations accused of 'promoting homosexuality'", The Guardian, 20 June 2012
- See the Wikipedia article on Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God.
- Uganda's Kanungu cult massacre that killed 700 followers, Patience Atuhaire, BBC News, 17 March 2020