This story and plea was passed on to Friends Ugandan Safe Transport by one of the conductors we work with:
We are six men in all and all of us joined the elite special forces group shortly after graduating from university in 2009.
While at university, we belonged to the Q-Hearts an informal group that brings together lesbians, gays, bisexuals, Transgender.
We knew right from the onset of our conscription into the elite force that we were headed for tough times if our sexual orientation was discovered.
However, we had no option but to take up the rigorous training with a view to enjoy the perks that go with being in the elite force. Besides, employment is very scarce in our present times.
During orientation, we got a lecture that was specially aimed at bashing homosexuality as the most evil sin that any officer in the elite force would engage in. I and my five colleagues knew that we were in a very tricky situation and it was almost difficult for us to concentrate fully on the course.
Our training combined both theory and physicals which were very rigorous.
We successfully went through the training and on the day of passing out, one of the keynote speakers reiterated the earlier banishment of homosexuality.
Coincidentally, four of us were deployed at the presidential residence and we knew this was the most opportune moment for us to lighten up our love life. We really enjoyed our life at this station because unlike other army units, the presidential unit is a special force that has all the funds to make life comfortable for the force.
We spent two years from 2010 to 2011 at the presidential residence and we got joined together at an oil drilling site in Midwestern Uganda. Fortunately, we continued enjoying our consensual adult acts as and when chance warranted.
We didn’t spend long at this site and were moved to northern Uganda at the presidential state lodge where life was a little miserable for us. We were spied on by one curious colleague who later on confronted us by calling out our names and labeling us rogues. The fracas attracted other soldiers who wanted to know what was at stake. Our tormentor narrated to our platoon commander what offense he accused us of and on hearing that we were accused of homosexuality our commander lost his cool and ordered our immediate stripping. Our shirts were used to tie us to each other as we moved towards a small pond containing dirty water. We were commanded to dip ourselves in the pond and one soldier was under instructions to thoroughly whip us. The man whipping us also got tired and was nearly shot by our commander who enjoyed the whole thing from a distance but shouted insults at us.
The whipping lasted like 30 minutes and the commander instructed that we be taken to the cells. Our commander was also on his phone and seemed to be communicating with someone apparently from Kampala.
We spent the night on a very ice cold floor without any slightest imagination of warm covering. At around 8 o’clock the following morning, we were summoned to the commander’s office where he told us that he was under a directive from headquarters to deliver us for further management. We surely knew that our lives were in danger considering the nature of crime we were facing and how we had previously been cautioned during training not to engage in homosexuality. However, our tormentors failed to understand that we didn’t choose to be homos but that’s exactly how we were created.
One of us lost his cool and confronted our commander who he accused of xenophobic mentality. This pricked the commander the wrong way and he almost pulled a trigger on the guy.
Another guy junior in rank talked to the commander to send the guys as fast as possible to headquarters as directed to diffuse any further confrontations.
The commander arranged a mini bus that drove us at terrific speed nonstop for four hours to headquarters.
We were ushered into a room where we were first and foremost served nice food typical of this elite force. We were also given packed juices. We were allowed to take a short guarded walk around the office for like five minutes. I think this was all done to ensure that all officers on the panel constituted to look through our cases were seated.
We were ushered into the room and we were shocked and nearly devastated when we sighted the guy who opened the can of worms seated in the far right end of the room scribbling something.
A female commander welcomed us and quickly told us that the reason we were in that room was for us to defend ourselves against accusations of homosexuality. One by one we presented our case but none of us denied our sexual orientation and this led to untold anger among the panel who perceived us as stubborn vagabonds. These were descriptions used on us.
Our confessions and unrelenting resilience hastened our verdict.
We were sent summarily to the cells where the torture continued, but this time not physical but emotional. We were, for instance, subjected to long hours of starvation and when food finally came it was either half cooked or even mixed with strange stuff.
This carried on for four consecutive days until last Friday when we together with the aid of one guy who we trained with mooted a plan to escape from incarceration. It was an uphill task considering the thorough defense at the headquarters. However, our partner in the escape crime spread the plan wider to involve more guys at vantage points where security checks would be difficult to beat. The whole plan was rightly patched together and the escape time was scheduled for 2 pm when guys were returning the huge utensils to the kitchen area, which was half a kilometer but very close to the gate.
We were aided to get uniforms and were freely cleared on all points until we reached the kitchen.
While at the kitchen, the head was already in the syndicate to have us escape unhindered.
We were now part of the group that was going to load firewood from somewhere we didn’t know. This was a golden opportunity for us to escape. It was planned that we would each excuse ourselves like we were going to shops and disappear. When we reached the small town where the firewood was we excused ourselves to go and buy some things we needed and that’s how we vanished.
We knew as we scampered the risk ahead of us until we got to a small bush where we changed into plain clothes and discarded the army uniforms for fear that the elite force uniform attracts a lot of attention.
One of our own had a brother who was expelled from seminary one year ago and was helped by a local contact whose number had shared.
On pondering the next move, he contacted the contact who was scared too much that he first hung up. He really feared at first thinking he was being made up for his previous role in moving persecuted people to safety.
On the second call we explained ourselves more convincingly by referring him to that particular man he helped move. And also letting him know that that’s how we got his phone contact.
He has hidden us in three difference places but we are not safe at all as we are sure that our escape must have made heads roll. So convincingly a hunt must be on, and we are making a passionate appeal to have our contact facilitated to have us moved at the earliest possible time.
Our case is unique because it borders on national security as well as the perceived magnitude of the offense in the force.
Dear compassionate supporters, come out in droves to help us retain our dear lives. We are threatened and God forbid if we are apprehended we may be finished as in written off the surface of the earth.
We know you have done it for other people, please do it for us as well.
All our safety and trust is at the moment vested in the hands of supporters.
Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund needs your help to fund these six gay men in extreme danger. It will cost $1,132.20 USD to transport them to safety.
We can’t do it without you for them and for others in hiding. Please make a donation to support the work of Friends Ugandan Safe Transport Fund so we can send it to the conductor who can get them out of Uganda.