Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Setting up #LGBT help in crisis #uganda

For any LGBT person there is a long history of acceptance and persecution, but it has always been clear to me that the persecution of LGBT's comes at a moment that power tensions increase. I feel that with the current Ugandan LGBT crisis involving prosecution and incarceration of LGBT, and even alleged LGBT people - actions must be set up that help those at immediate risk.

Does stopping international (read western) aid work?
There is talk of governments stopping aid sent to Uganda, but within the current debate that the West is behind gay propaganda, stopping Western aid to Uganda will probably only fuel the debate and it will be easy for president Museveni to grab this fact as proof for what he has been saying all along. I agree with Rosebell Kagumire that one of the best things to happen to a dictator is putting his people in even more dire straights, because hardship promotes violence and radicalization. So for me, in a first step one should be supportive of LGBT and the whole population of Uganda. While find targeted actions. I wish it could be as simple as: if you have a LGBT teacher in your community it doubles your amount of financial support.

Brainstorming on solutions for LGBT inside Uganda
At this very point in time, the first focus in my opinion should be on supporting and helping LGBT people inside Uganda. Helplines need to be set up (a parallel with the Underground Railroad comes to mind: setting up safe houses and safe routes to get out of the country).  An option would be for consulates to open their doors (if they are not doing so already), or any international organizations to be obvious safe houses.

Violence needs to be made visible in order to stop it
Without proof that violence occurs it is all to easy not to take action. One option is to use mobile phones, as phones are most of the time personal and private. An option for indicating where LGBT violence is taking place can be found in 'Bashing'  (currently an EU app, but maybe easily adaptable to Uganda settings) an application described in multiple articles which is a smartphone app that allows you to map where violence has taken place.
Another option is to make use of a wider mobile application to indicate where violence is taking place using the wide media offerings of Ushahidi , this software crowdsourcing tool also works with basic cell phones to indicate where something is happening.

I am sure there might be more coming from people confronted with actual violence in their regions, and having set up solutions. Any thoughts or ideas welcomed.

Challenges that need to be tackled:
Making sure that these helplines are not infiltrated with malignant intentions, meaning, that those helplines that are set up are REALLY coming from positive LGBT people and not those portraying as LGBT to actually trap them. So how can this be done? Consulates and international organizations are easy, but internal Ugandan helplines might have to find solutions for this problem. Maybe set up a quick iteration that people must go through before trust is given?  
Any action taken will result in people leaving behind their families, homes, society and that is simply devastating to all.

Last remark: sure happy that big data is not commonly available yet. What if data would now be openly available? Anyone having indicated that they are gay in any form or document will easily be traceable with big data access.