Call Me Kuchu is a 2012 documentary film that explores the everyday struggles that the LGBT community face in Uganda. 'Kuchu' is a synonym for the word 'queer'.
The film it is especially relevant today as a new law in Brunei allows death by stoning for engaging in gay sex. In February of this year the President of Uganda signed a bill calling for all first-time homosexuals to be sentenced to fourteen years in prison.
At the time of filming Call Me Kuchu, a new bill threatened to make all homosexual acts punishable by death. The bill also stated that if you were aware of a person engaging in homosexuality of any kind but did not report it to the authorities within 24 hours, then you too could face up to three years imprisonment.
Every day in Uganda gay people are subjected to all kinds of physical violence; burning and stoning are common acts of discrimination. They believe that homosexuality belongs in the same category as pedophilia, rape, murder and terrorism. In fact, Al-Qaeda is mentioned several times in the film.
There are several reasons why homosexuality is considered such a sin in this part of the world. Mainly, religion. Many Ugandans believe that homosexuality is an abomination. It is something you that you are taught, not something you are born with. It is considered corruption of the mind and pollution of the soul. Homosexuality is evil in its purest form. If you're gay you're going to burn in Hell. As well as this, the Western World is thought to be highly to blame for its sinful influence on their pure minds.
Call Me Kuchu follows the stories of several gay activists including a man named David Kato. David was the first openly gay man in Uganda and is a highly respected gay activist. Thanks to his work, an entire community of openly gay people now exists in Uganda. Every day they strive to fight towards justice and acceptance.
Disturbingly, during the filming in February 2011, David is brutally murdered at his home as he slept. Even more shocking, his funeral is disrupted by an anti-gay protest where people are shown shouting into megaphones and claiming that David will burn in Hell as God would never accept him into Heaven. Because of the sheer violence taking place, David's body is physically removed from its resting place and taken elsewhere.
Another person whose story is told in the film is a lady named Naome. When I presented for MTV in 2012, I interviewed her. She told me that since the release of Call Me Kuchu, her entire world had been destroyed. Not only have her children been taken away from her, but she has had to flee from Uganda as her life was too much at risk. Every day she was faced with death threats. She often hears that her two young children are regularly stoned in their school playground as many believe that they 'have the devil living inside of them.'
Call Me Kuchu also shows interviews of the very people persecuting against those like David and Naome. At one point we are shown the managing director of a Ugandan tabloid proudly showing the camera an article that has just been published. The article is titled 'Hang Them'. It includes the names, addresses and photos of 100 men and women who are expected to be gay.
Call Me Kuchu is both inspiring and heartbreaking. Most of all, it is infuriating to think that these remain to be the mind-sets of people living in the world today. Religion is based on love. If love is not at the core of what you are preaching, then you need to question your beliefs. Furthermore this is another example of religion breeding hate.
Now we are two years later, Call Me Kuchu has been made available to watch on Netflix. I urge you to watch it. It's important that we are made aware of the opinions on subjects such as this around the world. Ignorance is not always bliss.
Call Me Kuchu trailer:
You can watch my interview with Naome here: