The Ugandan mum who was once ashamed of her gay son

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04/19/2021

When Rita heard rumours that her son was gay she refused to believe it. At the time, she thought that homosexuality was an abomination – a “problem” that happened elsewhere, not in Uganda. When she finally realised the truth, she felt that something bad had invaded her own home. “When I confirmed it, I wept. I wept because I could not believe it… I locked myself in and wept,” she told The Comb, a BBC podcast. Uganda’s hostility towards homosexuality is well known. Gay sex is punishable by life imprisonment, and LGBTI people often face discrimination, threats and harassment. But the battle over gay rights is often thought of as a situation with two clear sides – LGBTI individuals on one hand, and homophobic communities on the other. The reality is a lot more messy, with parents like Rita caught in the middle – between the strongly held beliefs they have grown up with and the plight of their loved ones. A group in Uganda is trying to help parents like Rita understand and accept their children, and deal with the challenges and trauma of living with homophobia. Rita found out about the rumours surrounding her son from a friend, who had heard people saying that he was homosexual.

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