Bbc World Service, Kampala, Reef Evans discussed on BBC World Service
Temple Speaking to reef Evans, This is a special edition of witness history from the BBC World Service. Let's go to Africa next for a love story. In 2000 and six, a Ugandan newspaper began printing the names of professionals believed to be gay. It foreshadowed a range of strict laws prohibiting homosexuality. And a sharp increase in violent, homophobic attacks on LGBT people. Rebecca KSB spoke with one prominent Ugandan doctor about his battle against homophobia. And how he found love growing up as a kid in Uganda. Uganda is a very conservative country, you discover that you are different and it's like you try to run away from it. Paul Sema Goma is a medical doctor who hid his homosexuality for the early part of his career. In fact, it wasn't until he was 18 that he became fully aware of it himself. One night as he read a book. It was late at night, so we didn't have power that I was reading on cattle light. I was reading this book popular and the scene was on a desert island somewhere under there were all these guys and there was a comment that gay guys, they are really happy there because they were free. Suddenly clarified in my mind that wild this is who I am mint. It was so vivid, but for the next 10 years, I still went on denying Get to myself. That decision is perhaps understandable when the country's own president, Yoweri MMA 70, described homosexuals as abnormal, disgusting and on African to hear the president, shouting that you should arrest all these homosexuals. So we knew that Coming out and saying You're gay would be quite dangerous. Yeah, it was a difficult time. Some newspapers had begun to call for gay people to be executed. Violent, homophobic attacks were on the increase. But there was a small group of gay men and lesbians in Kampala who were prepared to make a stand against the increasingly threatening tabloids in 2000 and seven gay activists decided to hold a press conference themselves. Most of them will paper masks to obscure their faces for safety. Paul Sema Goma stood with them, but only in his capacity as a doctor concerned with HIV AIDS, and not as an out gay man himself. He was unmasked. What we wanted is to The outlet and say Okay, even if the current narrative is that there are no gay people in Uganda, we can change that by saying, Okay, we have come out and now you cannot deny us We can't come out by keeping quiet. Let's come out with a shout. So we invited the press people who were going to be exposed. We're told if you're going to be there, you have to be in a mask. Don't play around with the safety we put on paper masks, painted them through the rainbow that we painted with them yet. It was quite an emotional point. In time. Over the next few years, the Ugandan parliament voted to strictly increase the criminalization.