Came across this that might be of interest to some,
This really saddens me and even though I do not generally boycott a country for what its government does, it does make me worried about visiting the country. We have already made reservations, bought chimp and gorilla permits, 2 non-refundable flights from San Francisco to Entebbe, and put a deposit down on what will be a 3-week trip in November. I've been looking forward to this trip for months already.
If the tourists don't come then all of the problems the country currently has to protect the wildlife will be intensified. Not to mention the hardship for the people who rely on the tourists for their livelihood. And I shutter to think about the life of the gays who live in Uganda. That's horrifying. So, what to do? I'm still leaning toward going but I know that my husband will be more likely to want to boycott. And who knows how bad this will get by the time we go in November? One man can sure mess up the life of a lot of people. My heart goes out to everyone who lives in Uganda. I might be out around $4,000 and a dream vacation. But that's a small price compared to living in Uganda as a homosexual or a friend or family member of one.
I was kind of expecting something like this when learning that the Ugandan President signed the bill. Shameful. As this will inpact all Ugandans and all species.
Especially when maybe about 10-15/yrs ago Uganda was up front about protecting their people from HIV, being very public about the subject while other countries didn't speak the words, And recalling from what I read then, they did seem to protect their citizenry. Now, we have this. And know that this all started by a small group of very rightwing American conservatives who went to Uganda to push this issue. Believe they're called or sounds like C Street Group out of Wash, DC. Doesn't surprise that US doesn't have clean hands in this.
Guess we'll have to wait and see what the travel industry decides to do (or not).
Know I'd be disappointed having a trip planned, asking "what to do, what to do?"
Suggestion/thought - if working with a tour operator who also handles Rwanda, maybe you can switch and pay only the penalty to rewrite your int'l airline tickets (est. $500) vs entire deposit paid for Uganda land costs..
Maybe write to the guy you does this blog for further input/thoughts, Otherwise, for now though I'd wait and see what might be over the next few weeks.
It is indeed a very sad situation and troubling for all of us with trips planned to the Pearl of Africa. I am leaving two weeks from today for a 3 week stay for volunteer work with street kids and other at-risk youth as well as at the only animal shelter in the country. And I will also do some safari activities included a gorilla trek. It's a small group of us going and we have not even considered cancelling our trip. Our beneficiaries are counting on us to be there and it would be them that would be punished, not the government. Of course, boycotting is certainly a personal decision. I would advise the OP to sign up on the State Department Safe Travelers Enrollment Program (STEP) and you will get updates from headquarters and the Embassy on the current situation. While this article implies that the enforcement of the law is yet to be seen, we are taking it seriously and have agreed to not discuss this with anyone, even among ourselves. Our contacts are Ugandan and while we consider them our friends, we would not want to do anything to put them at risk, or ourselves. To the extent that even if asked directly, I will say that I want to comply with the law that makes such a discussion illegal. And that will be the end of my involvement in any such discussion. And if I find others engaging in such a conversation, for example over dinner while at a safari lodge, I will remove myself from that table. These might seem like drastic measures but at this point, I think they are warranted, IMHO.
To the OP, November is a long time and who knows what will happen, good or bad. The best you can do is keep updated on the situation and from various sources. I've found the info on BBC and Al Jazeera to be quite good with a different perspective. I've yet to seek out any South African news stations or news papers but that will be next. Let's hope pressure from other countries will lead to changes.
I debated this issue with myself about a week ago when the big debate was taking place on this forum. I didn't feel "right" then supporting a government that took such actions and I still don't. But i am going through with my plans to visit UG next February. I discussed the issue with folks much more knowledgeable about the country than I am and concluded that a boycott would immediately affect those that I most want to support: the chimps, gorillas, and the regular fellow showing us around.
I'm still trying to find a way to register my condemnation of the government's latest actions, but, for me, withholding my tourist dollars isn't the way.
I don't buy the simplistic argument that if we only went to countries whose policies we supported we might never travel. To me, it is just that, simplistic. I can't ignore the recent actions of UG, but I haven't yet found an appropriate (for me) way to voice my objections
I know this discussion was closed last week, so I expect it to be taken down again. But I think it is valid discussion for the forum to help folks who are struggling with the issue. chrisEdited: 05 March 2014, 19:50
Here we go again. That article is utter rubbish and biased sensationalism. I don't recall a boycott of Soviet union or its unfortunate satellites during the worst excesses of Stalin, Breshnev et al.
I know the article touched on the introduction of a shoot to kill policy. With poaching of rhino and elephants rife I can understand that. But do I see a proposed boycott of the Far Eastern proponents of the poaching? NO I don't. People are flocking to those countries so WHY the double standards?
Now to the other problem. Africa and in particular East Africa has always harboured 'conservative attitudes' to dress and public displays of affection by couples. They still do!
Until recently the President of Malawi banned long hair and afros on male tourists. You got a trim along with your entry visa or you stayed away.
Dressing 'immodestly' with bare legs and midriff will get you hissed at throughout East Africa and especially on the Swahili coast although it is now tolerated in certain 'tourist' areas. It just is not done. It may seem old fashioned to the progressive west but that is how it is and it is their country. As guests we owe it to our hosts to accept their sensibilities and laws.
So I think it behoves us to wait and see how these 'laws' are enforced before rushing to the tumbrils and screaming "Civil rights" and boycotting anything. You owe it to the Ugandan people to help them understand your point of view. You do that by talking openly as you would to any friend. You do not achieve anything with knee jerk reactions.
Churchill called Uganda "the Pearl of Africa". He also said it was infinitely better to JAW Jaw, not War war!
My own position after eight visits to Uganda? I am going back again next week and I shall act as I always have in the company of my friends and at large in the community. I will not insult either the country, the flag or its president and most importantly its lovely long suffering people by interfering in the democratic process.
So Kittcat, Chris and sea-lon. Relax. Your trip will go ahead without a hitch.Edited: 05 March 2014, 21:29
Mufwe, I didn't (as is often the case, my husband would tell you:)) make myself clear.
I'm going, excited, and not worried. I was able to discuss the issue with folks, who know the country and people, and was able to talk things through. I'd still like to find a way to show my displeasure with the government's action without harming the people or withdrawing support for the animals, but I don't know what that is. I only spoke of keeping the subject open for those folks, who weren't fortunate enough to have someone to discuss the issue with., that they have an avenue to talk it through.
chrisEdited: 05 March 2014, 21:56
I'll do everything I can to still go but might have a not-so-happy husband going with me. We just bought our tickets (will work out to be less than $1,180 or so each from the U.S. to Uganda so feel like we got a good deal) and are extending our stay in the country so I'm certainly going to go if I can.
This comes up again and again. One has to do what one feels is best for them, but I can't help but feel it hypocritical to travel in one country and not in the next when both are countries where homosexuality is illegal. I also feel boycotting is not the answer, as it punishes the wrong people.
There are several high profile websites where one can sign petitions such as avaag.org, amnesty international, and allout.org.
BTW, India has just signed a law making homosexuality illegal.
Good for you. I knew you were still going chris. I was simply re-assuring you that I was not worried.
As to what to do 'in country'? I would take it slowly and carefully. If asked, answer your friends questions but do be careful not to initiate the topic. Don't openly criticise anybody or any thing.
Sea-lon. I am going to start a campaign against folks who can fly from SFO for only a $100 more than I can get to Uganda from UK. I just paid £630 for mine which at 1.60/£ is $1017. T'aint fair.
Thanks for all the comments. I am not concerned about my trip but going not really as an individual but as part of a non-profit (albeit small) that comes to Uganda annually, I feel I need to be a bit more careful than if I was traveling solely as a tourist. I think the article is inflammatory - when you lead with the idea that Uganda is dangerous now, that's certainly gets attention. But it is only one man's opinion.