Lawyer Representing LGBTI Activists in Uganda Speaks with UG Pulse

Published: June 16, 2011

Uganda’s UG Pulse is running an indepth series with a rather biased title, "Saving Uganda From Sin: Our Country’s Battle Against Homosexuality." In Part 4, Ladislus Rwakafuzi, a human rights and constitutional lawyer representing LGBTI activists in Uganda, discusses the risks of blurring the line between church and state.

You might remember that homosexuals in Uganda have won two landmark cases in Uganda’s courts of law. One was the case against the goverment by Ivan Oyo and Victor Mukasa, after policemen raided and tortured two lesbians living together. In another recent case on publishing and “shaming” gays by a local tabloid, the judge ruled in favour of petitioners that all Ugandans enjoy the same right to privacy and it is wrong to publish pictures and names of alleged homosexuals.

Ladislus Rwakafuzi, a human rights and constitutional lawyer was the man representing the gay activists on both cases. We interviewed him about the current debates about homosexuality and the Anti Homosexuality bill currently before the Uganda Parliament.

What are your views on homosexuality?

For me, my take on this practice is that there are people who seem to be inclined to be attracted to persons of the same sex. It seems to be in their mind and in my opinion; they should be left to do what they want in their own privacy because we cannot control adults who have not injured anybody’s peace. It does not make sense to begin interfering in the activities of such adults.

Apart from the fact of that privacy, which everybody craves for, there is also a fact that the so-called nature or natural way is not really defined because people are very different. The first case I handled in 2006 involved one of my clients, who for orientation purposes, was a man. She was a male, her voice was deep, she almost had no breasts but her passport reads that she is a woman. So these are peculiarities over which society has no claim. There’s nothing society can do about it.

A human being is born into the world as an individual with his or her own peculiar circumstances and it becomes very wrong for the wider society to impose its own do’s and don’ts on such a person. That person has his or her own feelings, motivated by his or her own hormones. So my view is that society should stop the arrogance of arrogating itself the right of imposing behavior on other people.  In my opinion, where a person acts without harming the public good, that person should be left to do what he or she wants.

So are you saying no alarm bells should be sounded by the Ugandan society on homosexuality?

There is no need for concern because homosexuality has been there since time immemorial during biblical times, about 6,000 years ago… So these things are there. In my opinion, societies that are more developed have come to accept these phenomena and they just regulate it so that in case you want to have a relationship with a person of the same sex, it should be by consent and should be between people who are adults and in their privacy.

In 2009, Ndorwa West MP, Hon. David Bahati tabled the Anti Homosexuality bill. What are your thoughts on this proposed legislation?

His bill is a non starter. It will never see the floor of Parliament. It was killed right from the word go. We campaigned against it and we succeeded. It will not be enacted into law; that’s my opinion.

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