ARE GAY AND LESBIAN TOURISTS SAFE IN UGANDA
Whether gays and lesbians are accepted in Uganda still remains a major question. But for starters, Uganda is that one African country with the friendliest and warm welcoming people and a few nations that stick to their African cultures or respect their cultural values. After a long period of Idi Amin’s past rule that impacted negatively on this country’s image, it is of recent that homosexuality equally turned to be something that left many with many questions and hence resulted in negative responses. Regardless of this, in most cases, people are not asked whether they are gay or lesbian on arrival in Entebbe. Even the arrival cards don’t show a gay box and so are the visa applications.
Even when you are looking for an Uganda gorilla trekking permit, still you won’t be asked whether you are gay or lesbian. However, a lot more has been said about this and Uganda is one of the few warmest welcoming destinations. Most importantly, your driver guide can introduce you to Uganda’s culture, the way things are done and etiquette. African safaris in Uganda are safe and there are set safety measures that every traveller must put into consideration.
Equally, the hotels and lodges do work for gay travellers and when you visit some sites, you realize that most of them have twin beds. Depending on where you wish to pay a visit if it is Bwindi National Park or Mgahinga National Park-the notable lodges include Mahogany Springs Lodge, Buhoma Lodge, Chameleon hill Lodge, Silverback Lodge and others. While in Kampala, the hotels include Serena Hotel Kampala, Fairway hotel, Sheraton Kampala Hotel, Speke Resort, Hotel Africana, Arcadia Suites, Golf Course, Protea Hotel Kampala and many others. Most safari lodges in most national parks are owned by foreigners.
However, around 2014, the government of Uganda proposed a law against homosexuality with life imprisonment although this got ruled after some revisions to the bill. Its aim/objective was mainly to provide for marriage in Uganda as that contracted only between man and woman; prohibit and penalize homosexual behaviour and related practices in Uganda as they constitute a threat to the traditional family, prohibit ratification of any international treaties, protocols, agreements and declarations that promote homosexuality among others. Its provisions mainly sighted aiding and abating homosexuality, detention with intent to commit homosexuality a mention but a few. From then, Uganda was pushed into the limelight for criticizing the gay and lesbian act that almost led to a cut down of business from some sectors. The most sensitive of all is tourism where fewer tours were recorded unlike in the past years. Uganda’s tourism sector like other destinations is entirely dependent on visitors from the western side and the largest number is always registered in national parks where most safaris are done.
Uganda safaris are conducted in national parks like Murchison Falls National Park, Kibale Forest National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Mgahinga National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, Semuliki National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, Mount Elgon National Park and many other touristic sites. While on an Uganda safari to any of these parks, you have the opportunity to interact with locals especially when you embark on a cultural tour in the nearby local community. While here, it is advisable that you respect people’s cultures at all times so as to have a successful trip.
In conclusion, Uganda is the one African state to criticize homosexuality. However, there are many other states that never welcomed the move to introduce homosexuality in their home countries as it was against their cultural values and norms.