As Uganda’s ‘witch hunt’ against gay people intensifies, some of its outed citizens are being forced to flee to our region of the world.
18 months ago, 41-year-old Steven Kasiko (pictured) was named on a list of “100 top homos” by Ugandan newspaper ‘Rolling Stone’ in a story wearing the caption “Hang them.”
Now he has escaped to New Zealand, where he’s living in Auckland and is hoping to gain refugee status.
We hope he gets it – the situation in Uganda is very bleak. Many of those named on the newspaper’s list of homosexuals have been victimised and gay rights activist David Kato was violently killed.
“It’s so scary,” Kasiko tells GayNZ.com of being a known gay man living in Uganda. “Once they realise you are ‘one of them’ the people are after you… and in your family, no-one wants to talk to you at all.”
After the Rolling Stone front-pager hit the streets, Kasiko was forced to hit the streets too. His family rejected him after his father unsuccessfully tried to get him to marry a woman.
“The mind-set in Uganda, for most of the people, is hatred,” the escapee realises. “That is one thing that is hard to do, to change the mind-set of the people so people can live freely. I don’t know what can be done, it’s hard, the mind-set of the people is hard to change.”
Creating a new life for himself in Auckland, he’s naturally concerned about the folks he left back home, including a special someone. His partner of four years is missing. “I don’t know what’s happened with him,” says Kasiko. “They arrested him and now we don’t know where he is.
“From when they arrested him, up till now, we don’t know where he is. Because where they took him, they told me, but they try to move around. And even his family members are not interested in knowing.”
Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, and the authorities are taking ever more dramatic steps to quash the country’s gay citizens.
This week it was announced that 38 Ugandan non-governmental organizations will be banned as the government accuses them of ‘undermining the national culture’ by promoting homosexuality.
The East African country’s ethics and integrity minister Simon Lokodo advises a ‘zero tolerance’ policy. “Homosexuality is illegal, unacceptable and strange to our culture,” he says, reports The Guardian “It doesn’t have any positive aspects at all.
“If homosexuality is promulgated and legitimised, that will be like having no future of society. There is no procreation between man and man or woman and woman. We condemn it very strongly.”