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Second annual Pride in Uganda

On Aug. 3, Uganda’s LGBT community stepped out of the shadows in red wigs and glittering stilettos.

The country’s second gay Pride parade, held on a sandy beach in Entebbe, drew more than 100 people eager to tell the world that they are out, they are proud and they are not afraid to show it.

Last year’s parade, the first-ever in Uganda, was broken up by police and several people were arrested. But the fact that they were able to pull it off at all has given the community newfound confidence, said activist Kelly Mukwano.

“That success gave us confidence that we can do it,” Mukwano said. “We are getting more confident as time goes by.”

Last Saturday’s march was sheltered in the leafy recesses of a botanical garden about 20 miles from Kampala. But this year, police were informed in advance and the authorities did not intervene. Some revelers said it is only a matter of time before they are able to march through the streets of the capital.

Uganda has a grim track record when it comes to gay rights.

The country grabbed headlines in 2009 with the introduction of a draconian anti-LGBT bill, which proposed the death penalty for acts of so-called “aggravated homosexuality.” The bill has yet to be debated by parliament.

Amsterdam floods pink for festival

Tens of thousands of festival-goers, many dressed in pink or wearing studded leather, flocked to Amsterdam Aug. 3, and rainbow flags flew from scores of buildings in honor of one of the city’s biggest parties: the annual gay Pride celebration.

The festivities centered on a colorful boat flotilla sailing through the city’s ancient canals, each with its own theme, pumping out dance music.

Notable floats this year included one critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin and a boat organized by the Netherlands’ soccer association.

Tolerance for homosexuality is a point of pride in Amsterdam, as the Netherlands became the first country to legalize gay marriage back in 2001.

Group: Jamaica must probe trans slaying

A New York-based human-rights group on Aug. 1 called for Jamaican police to conduct a full investigation into the mob killing of a transgender teenager.

Dwayne Jones was found dead July 22 near the northern city of Montego Bay after being attacked by a crowd of people while attending a dance party in women’s clothing. Authorities said the 16-year-old was stabbed multiple times and shot once.

In a statement, Human Rights Watch said Jamaican authorities need to send an “unequivocal message that there will be zero tolerance for violence against LGBT people.”

Justice Minister Mark Golding recently condemned the slaying, saying police “must spare no effort” in finding the killers.

Activists say Jamaican gays, particularly those in poor communities, suffer frequent discrimination.

An anti-sodomy law bans anal sex on the island and advocates for gays argue that the colonial-era statute fuels homophobia. A gay-rights activist is trying to challenge the constitutionality of the nearly 150-year-old law in a Jamaican court.

Last year, a local gay-rights group, Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals & Gays, received 36 reports from adult gay males saying they were the victims of mob violence due to their sexual orientation.

— compiled by Larry Nichols

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