Nairobi News


UK lifts decade-long visa ban on Bobi Wine over anti-gay lyrics

By Hilary Kimuyu November 6th, 2023 2 min read

The United Kingdom has officially lifted a visa ban on Ugandan musician-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine after almost a decade.

The ban was originally imposed on Bobi Wine due to his controversial anti-gay lyrics to a song released in 2014, where he urged the public to take action against individuals he referred to as “battymen.”

Human rights activists exerted significant pressure on the UK’s Home Office, demanding that Bobi Wine be denied entry and the cancellation of his then-scheduled performance at the Troxy Arena in the UK.

Consequently, the Home Office kept Bobi Wine away from England since that time.

Bobi Wine, who is the leader of the National Unity Platform (NUP), shared the new developments on Sunday in a statement posted on X, expressing his gratitude for the decision, emphasizing the inequality of welcoming Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, whom he considers a tyrant, while excluding him and others striving for a free and democratic Uganda.

Also read: Tems shares experience behind bars in Uganda

“I am very glad to inform you that the ban against me from entering the UK has finally been overturned, and I will soon be visiting the UK after more than 10 years,” he said.

He extended his gratitude to his legal team in the UK for their unwavering efforts and to the People Power diaspora supporters who continually voiced their concerns through protests and advocacy.

“Their main argument has been that it is unfair to open their doors for Gen. Museveni, a world-renowned tyrant, and yet continue to shut the door for me, who, together with many others, is working to build a free and democratic country,” he explained.

Bobi Wine has been engaged in discussions with British diplomats, international lawyers, and activists to facilitate his travel to the UK. The ban had previously led to the cancellation of two planned performances where he was set to support the Ugandan drama and music group, the Ebonies, in Birmingham and London.

Also read: Why authorities have suspended Tanzanian musician Mbosso

The UK’s Criminal Justice and Immigration Act of 2008 prohibits inciting hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.

The lyrics in the song that were cited as homophobic were: “Burn all the batty man. All Ugandans get behind me and fight the batty man.”

But at the time, Bobi Wine insisted that his views were simply representative of his country.

“I am personally not out to threaten the life of any individual based on their sexual orientation, I just do not agree with them [homosexuals]. This is my opinion and happens to be that of 99 per cent of Ugandans,” Bobi Wine told Ugandan newspaper The Daily Monitor back then.

Also read: We miss you, come back! 5 music bands that split and left fans shattered

“I hope that the proponents of homosexuality who pride themselves in their liberalism and support for human rights will allow me my right of expression, even if they may not be comfortable with my opinion,” he added.

In May, 2023, President Museveni signed the anti-gay Bill into law following improvements adopted to make things tougher for members of the LGBQT community.

“We have stood strong to defend the culture, values and aspirations of our people as per objectives 19 & 24 of our national objectives and directive principles of state policy,” Parliament Speaker Anita Among said after President Museveni assented to the Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2023.

Activists had vowed to challenge the law in court, citing controversial provisions that include extreme punishments for offenders.