By Mick Krever, CNN
Some gay people in Uganda would rather kill themselves than live under that country’s new anti-homosexuality law, signed today by President Yoweri Museveni.
“People are afraid of losing their lives,” Ugandan gay rights activist Pepe Julian Onziema told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on the phone from the capital, Kampala.
“Prior to the bill becoming law today, people attempted suicide because they are like, ‘I’m not going to live to see this country kill me – so I would rather take my life.’”
Homosexual acts had already been illegal in Uganda, but the new law signed by Museveni toughens penalties against gay people and makes some homosexual acts crimes punishable by life in prison.
Many who fear violence have already fled the country for the “nearest border,” Onziema told Amanpour.
Even among those who are staying in the country, many are quitting their activism.
“People are really afraid about losing their lives, losing their families,” he said. Especially those “who are in the closet, who have lost jobs and their livelihoods have basically changed. And those are the same people who are committing suicide.”
For his part, Onziema said that he would continue the struggle for equality.
“I’m not afraid, because I’m not doing something wrong. Speaking out is my right that is guaranteed in the constitution, and this law is not going to take away the person that I am and it’s not going to take away my voice.”