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Romesh Ranganathan talks “disgusting” homophobia in Uganda

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Romesh Ranganathan talks “disgusting” homophobia in Uganda

Best on the Box choice for May 29th…

Romesh Ranganathan discusses the controversial anti-gay laws introduced last year in Uganda in a first-look clip from the new series of The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan.

The three-part series, which Romesh confirmed earlier this month would be his last, sees the comedian visit three beautiful but not traditionally tourist-friendly destinations in Africa, with his trip beginning in Uganda in episode one.

Prior to visiting, Romesh’s only knowledge of Uganda is the 1970s military dictatorship of Idi Amin, but his guide is keen to show him there’s much more to the country than its brutal past. Cue a white water rafting trip on the Nile, some wildlife spotting in Queen Elizabeth National Park, and a banana gin tasting session that leaves Romesh a little worse for wear…

However, arriving in Uganda mere weeks after the anti-homosexuality bill was voted for nearly unanimously by the country’s parliament, Romesh struggles to reconcile the picture-perfect wildlife idyll being presented to him with the fear and oppression described during a phone call with a local LGBTQ+ activist.

He says: “The honest truth is, I find it incredibly upsetting. My heart goes out to the people, I can’t even imagine.

“If you are a member of the gay community or a supporter of the gay community, your life here is incredibly challenging. People feel empowered to be homophobic because they’re backed up by law – it’s horrible, it’s disgusting.

 “When I came to the country, I was hoping that I could somehow justify what has happened with these new laws, and that they hadn’t been supported and this is something that people are up in arms about. But having spoken to [his guide] Alex, who I think is fairly typical of the views in this country, I think not only is it a well-supported law, it’s a celebrated one.”

Later episodes of the series see the reluctant globetrotter travel to Rwanda and Madagascar.

In Rwanda, Romesh gets his hands dirty trying to create indigenous art using a surprising – and pungent – sculpture material. On a nighttime safari trip, he gets breathtakingly close to a pride of lions, and he also learns more about the country’s harrowing history at the Kigali Genocide Memorial.

Romesh is keen to discover if he’ll “find an island full of talking lions and dancing lemurs” in Madagascar. Spoiler alert: he doesn’t. But he is taken on a spectacular hike through the Grand Tsingy; meets some real-life lemurs (and a “lemur whisperer”); and sees, first-hand, the effects of the devastating famine caused by the country’s worst drought in four decades.

Talking earlier this month about why Misadventures is coming to an end after six years, Romesh said he’s ready to explore more tourist-friendly destinations, saying: “My next Misadventure will be getting sand off my sun-creamed torso in Greece.”

The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan returns to BBC Two and iPlayer tonight at 9pm

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