Examining Life in safe spaces, concept of homophobia and sexuality in 14 urban settings of Uganda 2008-2010

Published: January 25, 2012

Introduction: Homophobia is kindled through media and public display of same sex
relation in Uganda. Homophobia destroys: assured livelihood, security and enjoyment of
sexuality. These at individual level translate as enjoyment of basics of life, safe
passage in all situations and enjoyment of relations. This report attempts to show
relationship between tolerable conduct, productivity, enjoying a relationship of one’s
choice and avoiding homophobic tendencies in Uganda. This was limited to following 95
same sex practicing respondents (LGBT), 12 questioning persons, 5 bisexual women and 20
bisexual men in 14 urban settings for 3 years in Uganda.

Methods: 132 persons aged 13 years to 57 years at 14 urban areas: Mpigi, Kabale,
Entebbe, Mukono, Mbarara, Masaka, Nansana, Mbale, Jinja, Kampala, Kawaala, Nakulabye,
Makerere and Namungoona were followed from 2008-2010. Rent payments, seeking health
care, re-filling sexual/reproductive health consumables, involvement in community
activities, appearances at “gay” functions, job security, anecdotal stories, and
references to activities involving same sex sexual relations were basis of collections
of information used in this report.

Results: All 20 bisexual males (28-57 years) paid house rent for their partners in lowmiddle
income areas. Twelve (12) had earlier supported their partners with loans to
start off small scale businesses in food, hair, video/film/music businesses. Eight (8)
paid school fees for their partners in higher institutions of learning. All 5 bisexual
women had established homes, were influential persons in their communities. 3 of these
were peers to younger same sex attracted girls. These girls seek relationship
counseling from them. 37 girls had sought relationship counseling between July 2008-
June 2009. A short questionnaire administered during re-fill of sexual/reproductive
health consumables towards end of 2010 revealed that: 89 respondents (22-42 years) had
stayed in their places of residence for more than 5 years. The least was 3 years
without any interruptions or interferences from neighbours. All of them revealed that
their neighbours saw them frequently hosting same sex persons who would spend nights or
even weekends at their places. When asked about relations with gate keepers to hostels,
owners of shops where they buy household commodities or motorcycle riders who
frequently transport them, they affirmed a strong respectful relation where everyone
minded their business. 10 who were questioning their sexuality had also revealed
earlier same sex sexual debut at 12 years. These ones were still under parental care
and had remained in schools. They revealed that they meet with people they knew were
same sex practicing regularly. They also were frequent users of social networks like
face book. Media outing was said to be the most feared, followed by blackmail and
visits by members who were unrestrained in public display of same sex sexual relations.

Conclusion: There are safe spaces where same sex relations are tolerated in Uganda. The
conduct of someone and unrestrained public display of same sex sexual relations are
tinder that stoke the fires of homophobia. A productive life combined with caution
ensures peaceful life for LGBTIQQ in Uganda.

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