The more time I spend in Glasgow, the more I’m realizing that this is the best place to be for someone in the LGBTQ+ community. I imagine that toward the end of my stay here, I’ll write a summary of my infinite reasons for saying this, but as the term goes on, you’re getting a play by play!
GULGBT+ (Glasgow Uni’s community) has been providing a bunch of opportunities for socials that are extremely inclusive and welcoming. They have weekly meetings for international students, bi students, gay men, women, transgender students, asexual, and intersex people. I have not been to a group that is specifically for one community, but every Wednesday night they host an event for the entire club, and it’s pretty amazing how many people show up. They always end their night at The Polo Lounge, which is one of the best gay clubs in the city (definitely the most fun in my opinion). Last week they took us on a pub crawl of a few LGBTQ+ friendly pubs and clubs. We went to at least 6 and I’m sure we didn’t hit them all! So there are plenty of friendly spaces involved in Glasgow’s nightlife.
On the other hand, GULGBT+ also hosts events on the educational side of things. This week, in honor of Black History Month (October in the UK/February in the US), Anthony Oluoch came to give a talk concerning LGBT and Asylum in Kenya. He’s one of the founders for Gay Kenya Trust, which is essentially a law firm based in Kenya for LGBT (they don’t use the ‘Q+’) crimes and lawsuits. This was incredibly relevant, especially because of the refugee crisis happening across Europe. It was a short talk, but he gave us the groundwork to a lot of the problems the LGBTQ+ community faces in both Kenya and Uganda. While it’s not a crime in Kenya to be gay, it’s a crime to commit gay acts. And by this they mean sex, and by sex they mean penetration- which means the laws target gay men and it’s rare for a lesbian to ever get prosecuted. That being said, there is some confusion concerning their Constitution because it states it is against the law to “act against the order of nature”, which is problematic because it’s largely subjective. Discrimination is also a major problem, so Anthony along with other lawyers are trying to introduce a bill that outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation (similar to one making it’s way to the Supreme Court in the US).
The other major issue Anthony addressed is the situation in Uganda. Last year, their government criminalized homosexuality all together, which was a change from their previous law stating that homosexuality was punishable by death. After loads of (rightful) scrutiny from countries around the world, the Ugandan government adjusted the punishment to life in prison. So all these refugees are seeking asylum in Kenya, where they get placed into a refugee camp where it can take anywhere from 2 days to 10 years for them to find a home and make a life somewhere. One of the biggest points of his talk was to raise awareness about the situation in Kenya and Uganda, and to get us to realize that one of the major problems was just getting people to realize that those who are seeking asylum are humans too, and are just trying to make a life somewhere where they feel safe. All in all, though short, it made for an eye opening discussion, especially with someone who experiences it first hand.
We’ve officially hit the halfway mark in our term- two months here and two months to go! Its insanely hard to believe, and some days two months seems so long and others it’s enough to induce a panic about how quickly time is running out! I’m heading to Dublin next week to see what it’s like across the water so stay tuned!