Joburg fundraiser for Ugandans threatened by anti-homosexuality bill
Amid international outrage provoked by Uganda’s discriminatory anti-homosexuality bill, a group of artists and activists have come together to convene an art sale in Johannesburg to raise funds to help with immigration and resettlement for queer Ugandans whose lives and already limited freedoms are under threat.
While South Africa observed Human Rights Day on 21 March 2023, Ugandan legislators passed the “anti-homosexuality bill”. As previously published on Daily Maverick, “in addition to same-sex intercourse, the law bans promoting and abetting homosexuality as well as conspiracy to engage in homosexuality. Violations under the law carry severe penalties, including death for so-called aggravated homosexuality and life in prison for gay sex.”
The bill also criminalises failure to report same-sex activities to the police, as well as advocacy and financial support of LGBTQI+ groups, which would be punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
A group of artists and human rights activists, working with the Johannesburg-based Bare Stories Foundation, a “social inclusion initiative to create safe housing for in-crisis youth”, is hosting “Hashtagwhatnext”, an art sale to raise funds to “add to the many efforts that currently exist to highlight this injustice” by helping get queer Ugandans out of the country and resettled elsewhere. It will be held at Lang De Moun Mon in Observatory, Johannesburg, from 2pm to 6pm on Saturday, 23 April 2023.
“I am personally just tired of having endless debates and participating in social media outrage. It’s starting to feel like something many of us do to fool ourselves into thinking that vocalising that we care about issues changes anything. It doesn’t,” says event co-convener Sandiso Ngubane, a former journalist and musician who goes by the moniker Mx Blouse.
Ngubane initially reached out to DeLovie Kwagala (a.k.a Papa De), an award-winning Ugandan visual artist, self-taught photographer and human rights activist.
“I got in touch with Papa De, who is Ugandan, to see if they were doing anything I could assist with. I already had this idea of getting visual artists I know together for an art sale and to use the proceeds from that to supplement Papa De’s existing fundraising efforts. It turned out Papa De had the same idea.”
They reached out to artist friends who agreed to donate work for the sale, as well as others, including the Bare Stories Foundation, to assist in organising the event as well as facilitate the use of the funds they hope to raise, which will be used to get queer Ugandans out of the country and into Bare’s transitional housing in Joburg.
Art on sale features work by multi-award-winning artists and celebrated illustrators and photographers, including Lady Skollie, Athi-Patra Ruga, Kwagala, Seth Pimentel, Stephen Tayo and Yagazie Emezi. Catalogue prices range from R6,300 to R60,000 for the pieces on sale. Those wishing to support the fundraiser through donations other than buying art, can also contribute on the event’s Quicket page. And those who are unable to attend but wish to support by buying work from the catalogue, can get in touch with Ngubane directly on email.
The event will feature musical and dance performances, a poetry reading, as well as a panel discussion moderated by Roche Kester from the “Gauteng Provincial Government’s LGBT desk”, and as speakers, Kwagala; Ghanaian activist Crazinist; Sylvester Kazibwe, a transgender man currently living in the Ugandan capital, Kampala; and Mpho Butswe from Access Chapter 2, a Pretoria-based non-profit organisation working towards “promoting the human rights and empowerment of women and girls, and LGBTI+ people”.
Supporters wishing to attend can rsvp for a free ticket via the event page on Quicket. “Whether we save five or 100, this is a moment where all those caring for human life should come together to stand up against hate, bigotry and tyranny,” the Hashtagwhatnext group says. DM/ML