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Fear in Uganda's Gay Community after Death Penalty Threat, Arrests

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Twenty-one-year-old Shamim Pretty has found shelter in a Kampala safe house for the past three years.

Shamim Pretty is not her real name. She told VOA when she was 16 years old, her mother kicked her out of their home after learning that her daughter was transgender. Her mother also called the police.

"When they took me to the police, my mother was there waiting for me," said Pretty. "They really mistreated me. There was an officer who was very homophobic. He got hold of me and beat me up."

A group called Icebreakers Uganda provides help to members of the country's LGBT community. The term LGBT is short for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

甘肃快3Icebreakers Uganda set up the Kampala safe house in 2012. That was the year before Ugandan lawmakers voted to increase the punishment for homosexuality from life in prison to death.

甘肃快3Under pressure from Western governments, Uganda overturned the Anti-Homosexuality Act in 2014.

But gay sex remains illegal and members of the LGBT community are commonly harassed in the country.

甘肃快3Elvis Ayesiga is the programs director at Icebreakers Uganda.

"You don't have anywhere to go, you don't have money for rent…so we offer space here, usually for one month," Ayesiga said.

Last month, Uganda's ethics minister, Simon Lokodo, announced plans to bring back the Anti-Homosexuality Act. So, many homosexuals now live in fear of renewed attacks.

Pepe Julian Onzima works with a non-governmental organization called Sexual Minorities Uganda.

甘肃快3"Already, most (gay) people do not have homes, they do not have education, they are not employed, they are homeless. So, when something like this comes, it threatens even the little safety that they had," Onzima said.

A Ugandan government spokesman has denied any plan to bring back what some call the "Kill the Gays" bill.

Even so, the LGBT community is frightened by the arrest of 16 gay activists. They were arrested because they had condoms and medicines to prevent the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

甘肃快3A gay Ugandan man told VOA "you do not know who is watching." He is always careful not to show that he is gay.

I'm Susan Shand.

VOA's Halima Athumani reported this story. Susan Shand adapted the report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

transgender – adj. relating to a person whose sense of being male or female differs from the sex the person had at birth

homophobic - adj.甘肃快3 disliking those who are gay

lesbianadj.甘肃快3 related to woman with sexual desires only for women

gayadj. related to persons with sexual desires for people of the same sex

harass – v. subject to aggressive pressure

rentn.甘肃快3 a payment made for the use of property or land

ethicsn. morality

condomn.甘肃快3 a thin protective covering worn by a man during sex as a form of birth control or to protect against infection

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