Babu Ssembajja is a proud gay muslim man who came to the Netherlands in 2009 from Uganda. He has lived in the diaspora for 5 years that have really enlightened him for being open as a free gay man without fear or favor as it was before in his motherland Uganda prior to the years before 2009 when he was concealing his sexual orientation in order to live the next day.
Babu in 2013 gained the confidence to boldly come out to his fellow Ugandans and Africans here in the Netherlands in a community called Uganda Gay On Move (UGOM) who gave him strength to live his life and later confessed that he had not opened himself to the Dutch Immigration Authorities about his sexual orientation and the challenges he had faced back home in Uganda in the first instance. This was because he could not easily trust anyone about the matter. But as years went on, Babu realized that Netherlands is tolerant about the LGBT rights and respects every one. This gave him the courage to talk about it for the second time he got the chance to face the Immigration Authorities. However this comes with challenge to many as there are a lot of hardships in explaining why you never talked about it. But for that matter Babu had all the reasons to fear and not talk about it since in Uganda, the environment had put a lot of fear in him to closet himself further.
One should know that despite our victory on the Anti Homosexuality Law of 2014, The LGBT community is still threatened by the existence of the Penal code Act of 1950 that was inherited from the British which is still in the Ugandan Constitution;
Laws prohibiting same-sex sexual acts were first put in place under British colonial rule in the 19th century. Those laws were enshrined in the Penal Code Act 1950 “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” and retained following independence. The following sections of that Act are relevant:
Section 145. Unnatural offenses. Any person who—
(a) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; [or]
(b) has carnal knowledge of an animal; or
(c) permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature,
commits an offense and is liable to imprisonment for life.
Section 146. Attempt to commit unnatural offenses. Any person who attempts to commit any of the offenses specified in section 145 commits a felony and is liable to imprisonment for seven years.
Section 148. Indecent practices. Any person who, whether in public or in private, commits any act of gross indecency with another person or procures another person to commit any act of gross indecency with him or her or attempts to procure the commission of any such act by any person with himself or herself or with another person, whether in public or in private, commits an offense and is liable to imprisonment for seven years.
Before the Penal Code Amendment (Gender References) Act 2000 was enacted, only same-sex acts between men were criminalized. That Act changed references to “any male” to “any person” so that grossly indecent acts between women were criminalized as well.
In his words, he craves for any kind of support that can enable him to stay and live his life as a free gay man who can openly say that he is gay and nothing bad happens to him and that is only possible in countries like the Netherlands where these rights are highly privileged. Thus;
“Years ago when i landed in this country, I gained the once lost hope, rights and the peace that my country Uganda had denied me. The closet i was forced to stay in because of my sexual orientation, nature and beliefs not only by my religion Islam but also my culture and not forgetting the laws in my country inherited British Penal Code Act 1950 “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” and the recent Anti Homosexuality law 2014 all in the constitution of my country Uganda. I thought that this country could grant me back my lost freedom . However today i am at TarApel asylum seekers deportation camp waiting for the forced deportation by the Netherlands from where i have enjoyed my full rights as a gay man such as going out publicly for who i am and joining other human right activists groups like Uganda Gay On Move (UGOM) among others. I have managed to meet and live with people of my caliber with regard to my sexual orientation there by gaining and being my self openly. This is therefore to request you my brothers and sisters in the same circle to stand with me against this forced deportation! And in this i need your support for I can’t be deported to loose my rights and self once again, i can not afford to pretend that i am straight yet i am not which is going to happen to me when i am deported”.