On Wednesday 14th June 2017, Kuchu Times Media Group officially released Bombastic Magazine into the public domain. The magazine which was distributed in Kampala on the same day had earlier undergone a dispersion phase in the upcountry areas of Uganda in late May.
The volunteer teams that doled out the magazine targeted local stakeholders and foreign missions. Among the key stakeholders targeted were parliamentarians, civil society organisations, health centers, feminist organisations as well as media houses.
“We strongly believe that if we are to start open and objective conversations with various key players in health, legal, education, and civil spaces, we will have opened the door to the future. Our policy makers are misinformed about LGBTI persons and all things concerning sexual and gender minorities and how best to change this than provide first hand information from the very people that they are misinformed about,. Bombastic magazine carries various articles that encompass different issues including lived realities shared by LGBTI persons- these we believe will shed light on what it truly means to be a minority as well as debunk so many of the myths that surround us a s a people,” Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, founder and Executive Director of Kuchu Times Media Group said of why it is important to bring policy makers and influencers to the discussion table.
While the distribution of the magazine went as anticipated on the most part, the reaction from Parliament has taken the entire LGBT community aback. According to The Observer, officials from the Department of the Sergeant At Arms at parliament learnt of the magazine drops after one recipient reported the matter to the receptionists and immediately swung into action and retrieved the material.
This is the very government that sits down with gender and sexual minorities and agrees to listen to their side of the story. How are they supposed to get the right information if they deliberately shun such information- information that is handed to them free of charge? How are sexual and gender minority health needs supposed to be incorporated into the wider health policies if they continue to sit down and make promises but then turn around, in the same breath, and castigate our publications?
The Observer further intimated that a reliable source had revealed that the copies were taken to the office of Paul Wabwire, the deputy Clerk Parliamentary Affairs, who scrutinized the magazines but found that they are inappropriate. They also wrote, in the online article that Chris Obore, the director of Communications and Public Affairs (CPA), told them that “Trying to smuggle illegal materials into Parliament is a gross act of provocation. Fortunately, security at Parliament was very robust and we realized this early.”
Statements such as these go a long way to show the ignorance that surrounds anything that concerns LGBTI persons. What inappropriate information was found in those magazines? All the articles carried therein are written by LGBTI identifying Ugandans that want to tell their stories in the hope that people will understand that there is nothing abnormal about them. These are stories meant to debunk the recruitment theories that are constantly traded by anti-gay crusaders as well as put humane faces to this stigmatised group of people.
How does the Director of Communications and Public Affairs at Parliament define smuggling? These magazines were delivered by volunteers who signed in at the parliamentary entrance, underwent all check-point procedure and proceeded to the reception where they handed the labeled parcels to the receptionists, who in turn promised to deliver them to the recipients.
How then can this be described as smuggling materials into parliament? Had there been a breach of protocol, we assume our volunteers would have been apprehended or even asked to follow the right procedures.
However, the same article, revealed that only 25 copies of the magazine were retrieved; meaning that the other 55 had already been delivered and were hopefully being read by the different Members of Parliament and Committee heads. This is not the first time that Bombastic Magazine has been taken to Parliament; they have recieved copies of the previous two editions as well.
“We will continue to publish this magazine because it is one way to reach out to the masses and policy makers. We are open to dialogue- instead of rubbishing this information that they could benefit from, our Parliamentarians should invite us to sit down and have beneficial conversations,” Kasha said of Parliament’s decision to recall Bombastic Magazine.
About the Magazine
Bombastic Magazine is an annual publication by Kuchu Times Media Group. The magazine which is themed focused on gay men and transgender persons in its first two issues respectively. The third edition specially focuses on lesbian women- a theme that was particularly picked to help amplify the voices of women as well as reclaim their stance and visibility within both the LGBTI movement as well as the general human rights arena. This edition therefore speaks to reclaiming the forefront positions and more than ever, fighting for visibility as well as a chance to be more involved in policy changing on the human rights front.
The magazine also sheds light on the accomplishments of some lesbians that remain uncelebrated. With the prejudice and marginalization that is a constant in their lives, these women have managed to achieve everything they have set their minds to- another reminder that we are all capable of doing great things if we decide that is what we want.