UGANDA: Love, Resistance and Power of the Political Moment


Tuesday 11 March 2014

3.00pm, Kampala, Uganda

Today was a day of stunning resistance with great dignity and strength at the Constitutional Court of Uganda in Kampala. This day came as a great relief after the past few weeks since the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was signed into law by President Museveni of Uganda.

At 2.30pm, the petition, Constitutional Petition No. 008 of 2014 was filed against the Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014 at the Ugandan Constitutional Court. It was a simple procedure, quickly over, taking place in a small registry within the court building. The moment was a well-timed example of the power of movements. This is how change happens.  Using the law to confront the injustice of the Anti-Homosexuality Act and its consequences and implications for justice for ordinary people in Uganda.

A number of activists and human rights defenders turned up at the Court and stood waiting alongside the media for the arrival of the petitioners.

After a false start when the media clamoured to capture the arrival of two white women supporting the action, the petitioners arrived. As they stepped out of the elevator, there was a push by the media to capture the hystoric moment. Professor Morris Ogenga-Latigo, the Honourable Fox Odoi-Oywelowo and lawyer and Executive Director of Ugandan Non-Governmental Organisation, Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum – Uganda, Adrian Jjuuko carried three huge blue spiral bound documents – the petition. About half of the ten petitioners were not available at the Court.

At the press conference shortly after the filing, there was a short summary of the basis of the petition and the floor opened to the press. The petition was lodged both in terms of questions of procedural justice [the Bill was passed without a quorum in the Ugandan Parliament], as well as on substantive grounds, [where the provisions of the Act are being challenged on a number of grounds.]

Here are our top five highlights of Resistance, Love and Power of the political moment:

Ø  “This law is imposing criminal measures against consenting adults engaging in same sex relations”. [Odoi-Oywelowo]

Ø  “The claim that homosexuality is unAfrican is a lie.” [Ogenga-Latigo]

Ø  “It is odd to hear Africans defending Christianity, which was brought here from somewhere else” [O-L]

Ø  “When we consider the propaganda around the process of passing this Law, we have no option but to conclude that the motives are sinister.” [O-L]

Ø  “I am not just surviving, I am strong!” [Julian Pepe Onziema]

The Petition can be accessed here.

Attached the press statement issued.

Coalition of African Lesbians Correspondent.



solidarity Uganda

The Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CSCHRCL) would like to thank you for all the support you have accorded the people of Uganda in its fight against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill (the Bill) over the years. We specifically thank you for the support since the Parliament of Uganda passed the Bill on 20th December 2013.

Unfortunately, despite the intensive work that has been done since 2009 to stop the passage of this draconian bill into law, President Yoweri Museveni Kaguta of the Republic of Uganda on Monday 24th February 2014 signed the Bill into Law. We now have to work with the reality of the Anti-Homosexuality Act (2014).

These guidelines are intended to all our partners on how to support the CSCHRCL in this new context:
1. Speaking out: It is very critical that we continue to speak out against the law and its implications in terms of security of the LGBTI community, their allies, and the general implications of the Act on the work around public health and human rights in general.
Important to Note: In all communication about the impact of the law, please refer to the shrinking and deteriorating policy space that civil society is experiencing; not only about this human rights issue, but about “mainstream” human rights as well: Uganda’s track record is bad, and is getting worse, and these issues are related. In this regard please also be aware of the Anti-Pornography Act and the Public Order Management Act when discussing the situation of civil society activists in Uganda.

2. World Wide demonstrations: We call upon all partners, friends and allies to organize demonstrations in different cities around the world now as this Act is set to have detrimental effects for all of us. We all MUST continue to speak out. These could include demonstrations at the Ugandan embassy in our country, or asking your place of worship to
organize a vigil.
3. Call on Multinational companies that have businesses in Uganda to go public about their concerns on the Act and their future economic engagements in Uganda: For example Heneiken, KLM, British Airways, Turkish Airlines, Barclays Bank, and other companies with important interests in Uganda and that already respect and value LGBT rights in their own internal policies, should note the risk that these laws pose for the safety of their own employees, as well as the impact on their brand image of continuing to do business in Uganda.
4. Issue statements condemning the passage of the Bill into Law: We need the Government to know that they shall not get away with their actions. These statements should reflect the other human rights violations in the country, not just about LGBTI rights. Please always alert us to any such statements, whichever language they are written in, such that we may either post them on our website ( or a link to your website.
5. The question of cutting Donor AID has arisen: Our position on this is very clear. We do not support General Aid Cuts to Uganda. We do not want the people of Uganda to suffer because of the unfortunate Political choices of our government. However, we support Strategic Aid Cuts to specific sectors, such as the Dutch Government’s decision to withdraw funding from the Justice Sector. We encourage urgent review of Aid to organizations and government institutions that have failed to demonstrate respect for Human Rights and those that have been actively supporting this bill. We DO NOT support cuts in support to NGO’s and other civil society institutions that offer life saving health services or other important social services to the People of Uganda.
6. Partners should expand investment in funding for service delivery and advocacy in defiance of the law, targeting LGBT populations, to attempt to mitigate the harmful impact this law will have on access to services, and on human rights.
7. We encourage you to lobby your Government’s Immigration Services to adjust their asylum policy with regard to LGBTI persons from Uganda, Nigeria, Russia, Cameroun and other countries in which levels of state-sponsored homophobia are rapidly rising.
8. We further request that you send us information on which organizations can be helpful in assisting the individuals who are at risk if the situation gets worse and they have to get out of the country and seek asylum or relocation elsewhere.
9. We request you to prepare for Urgent Actions given that LGBTI people or people doing work around LGBTI rights are increasingly liable to being arrested. Urgent actions could include sending messages to the Uganda Government to protest such arrests, use of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, to raise awareness that arrests have happened, contacting your own embassies in Uganda to voice your concerns.
10. Call for your governments to issue travel advisories on Uganda, and remind them that they have a duty to protect and therefore should take responsibility for alerting their own LGBTI citizens to the risks of traveling to Uganda.
11. Contact travel companies to urge them to also routinely issue such travel advisories to their customers (on the same principle that tobacco products must have a health warning visibly displayed, so flights and package holidays should have warnings of the risks of traveling to Uganda!)
12. Get more foreign leaders in foreign governments to say something about the Act as they have not come out strongly as it was expected.
13. Get celebrities to say something against the Act. We need more voices that Ugandans recognize and revere socially to speak out against this Law.
14. Get more international Aid groups especially those responding to HIV/AIDS work to say something for example: USAID, Pepfar, CDC, Global fund and others.
15. Use your influence and work or networks to encourage and Pressure more African leaders to speak out against the rising levels of homophobia through state sanctioned Anti Gay laws.
16. Engage with any non-LGBTI partner organizations in Uganda that you may collaborate with or whom you fund to issue statements condemning the passage of the AHB and its implications to the work of Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs). Remind them that this Bill is going to further shrink NGO spaces and is bound to affect the work they are doing.
17. Draw international public attention to issues such as corruption, human trafficking, nodding disease in northern Uganda, land-grabbing, as well as the suppression of media freedom and civil society space, the Public Order Management Act so that attention shifts to where it properly belongs; in the best interests of the country’s population as a whole. We need to step up public criticism to other negative trends in Uganda and remind the world that this Act is being used as a tool to divert attention from other pertinent issues that Ugandans are facing.
18. Get religious leaders of all faiths (Catholic, Anglican, Muslim, Protestant, Seventh Day Adventists, Quakers, etc.) to issue statements encouraging tolerance and respect for human rights for all Ugandans and Africans.
19. Call for your governments to ‘recall’ ambassadors back to their respective Capitals for at least one week for strategic consultations on how to move forward when dealing with Uganda and Nigeria in regards to the two draconian laws. This will give the Ugandan government food for thought.
20. Contribute physical, financial, or technical support to the Coalition and the LGBTI community as well as the exposed Human Rights Defenders working on LGBTI rights who are likely to begin to be arrested and charged or otherwise persecuted. Financial and technical support for challenging the Act in the Constitutional Court and the East African Court of Justice.

For More information Contact:
Jeffrey Ogwaro : / Tel: +256 782176069
Clare Byarugaba: / Tel:+256 774068663
Kasha Jacqueline: Tel: +256 772463161
Frank Mugisha: Tel: +256 772616062
Pep Julian Onziema: + Te: +25 772370674

So I read the Scientific Report on Homosexuality in Uganda. And I have questions.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, and the Scientific Statement…food for thought if ever there was any.  The circulated statement, which was prepared by authorities at the Makerere University Medical School and other Ugandan and (international) scientific professionals, concludes that there is no definitive gene responsible for homosexuality, and that homosexuality is influenced by environmental factors, for example culture, religion, information and peer pressure. In the report, the consulted science professionals also conclude that the ‘practise’ of homosexuality needs regulation like any other human behaviour, especially to protect the vulnerable.

In written communication from the department of Public Relations at the State house of Uganda, President Museveni is quoted as saying ‘What is important for us is the authoritative statement of those who are charged with the medical affairs of Uganda at this time because they are the ones who are historically responsible. The question I put to them was, are there people born like this? Now they are saying they are no such people. And if they put it in writing… because this is a historical document…that the one who was running Uganda at that time got worried, asked the experts what did they say about this and this is what they said….then my work is finished.’ Don’t you think though that it is important for the government and the parliament of Uganda to carefully and unemotionally consider the report that would be responsible for the passage of such a retrogressive bill? I think so. So all emotions aside-I have some questions about this scientific statement.

After reading the statement rendered, although I am not a scientist nor do I  belong to a body of scientific professionals, I feel that it is important to commend a few conclusions in the said statement, which should be given cognisance for their progressive and inclusive language and both social and scientific relevance. The statement, in its conclusion states:

i.)      Homosexuality is not a disease

ii.)     Homosexuality is not an abnormality

iii.)   There is need for studies to address sexualities in the African context

I concur with the report that there is a deep and longing need for studies to address the issues of sexualities in an African context and using African language. The scientific reports’ findings heavily quote and reference Western studies on the issues around sexualities, and homosexuality. It can be safe to say then that these findings stem from research that was carried out in global Northern countries, and are thus influenced heavily by the social norms and values of the countries from which the research reports originate. None of the referenced material quoted looks at local, Africa based research, nor does it consider the African context in its findings. In the light of this statement revealing that there is a great need for more research and studies into sexualities and the African context, it’s proposed, that before the president of Uganda signs the bill into active law:

a.)                That a time period for intensive research in Uganda and Africa be carried out, and that African published papers, and research by African scientists, specifically focusing on the issue of sexuality and gender identity, be given. This will allow for a scientific statement and report that is African in content and context to be developed. As it stands, the scientific report produced cannot be taken as truth for Africa, and Uganda more specifically with all the reference material cited being Western sourced.

b.)                The referenced material in the scientific report dates back as far as 1954. There have been considerable changes and advances in behavioural science since then, as more research is carried out in the world and more information is made available to us through science. More current studies on sexuality and behavioural sciences should be considered for the purposes of developing such a scientific statement. Science and technology change at a very fast pace and in order to develop accurate analyses of situations, we need to use the latest information that science avails us.

In the same spirit, I wish to challenge several conclusions included in the scientific statement produced by the Ministry of Health in Uganda. The statement in its conclusions stated:

1)      There is no definitive gene responsible for homosexuality:

1a. Based on the research referenced, its dates and the sources, I consider this conclusion to be, well, inconclusive. While the scientists in this statement have sought to prove that there is no genetic link between human beings and homosexual behaviour, they have not also proven that heterosexual behaviour is in fact naturally occurring and that it is the ‘natural’ or ‘normal’ way of being. While heterosexual behaviour is more publicly visible and acceptable, the consulted scientists in their report have not proven beyond reason that heterosexuality is the genetic norm for intimate and sexual human interaction. The scientific statement presents the fact that sexuality, like a variety of other biologically occurring human traits, varies in degrees from masculine to feminine and vice versa- and that there is nothing unnatural about homosexuality, whether occurring in humans or in animals. If this is to be taken as truth, then it should be accepted that homosexuality exists within the sexuality spectrum and should be afforded its place not just in science-but in in everyday life.

 2)      In every society there is a small number of people with homosexual tendencies

2a. Statistics around the existence of homosexual women and men in Africa, and the taboo nature in which this orientation and identity is perceived, are largely non-existent. Data currently available is not extensive enough to come to the conclusion that gender non-conforming people are a minority people in every society.

There are indeed a multitude of heterosexual presenting homosexual practising women and men in Africa-therefore it would be inaccurate to conclude that it is only the gender non-conforming women and men that are homosexual, either in identity or in practise.

The assumption was the same for HIV positive people in Africa until social and health systems made it moderately safe for people to come out about their HIV statuses. In the case of HIV, it was found that more people than assumed or anticipated had been knowingly or unknowingly living with the virus in shame and silence. These same social restrictions are experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-identifying people in Uganda and Africa as a whole. It is not safe for gender non-conforming people to publicly affirm their sexuality, and therefore it is difficult for any real and valid statistic to be collected. This fear exists worldwide, even in countries where homosexuality is not criminalised, therefore if this conclusion is based on Western collated statistics, they are still likely to not only be flawed, but also not representative of the African [Ugandan] situation.

3)      Homosexuality can be influenced by environmental factors e.g (culture, religion, information, peer pressure)

The above conclusion is also true for heterosexuality. It has to be. If, as the scientific statement argues, that homosexuality has no genetic links in its influence over human behaviour and sexuality, then neither does heterosexuality. I can then also submit that heterosexuality is a learned practise which is influenced by the same environmental factors as listed above. At which point, in the same way that heterosexuality is allowed to exist in a social space and without policing and abuse, so should homosexuality. If it is decided that heterosexuality is in fact naturally occurring and independent of socio-cultural influences, then the same body of scientists should also prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that homosexuality has genetic predispositions for majority of women and men in the world.

4)      The practise needs regulation like any other human behaviour, especially to protect the vulnerable.

Attempts to regulate human behaviour, at best, have more often than not failed. Attempts at controlling human behaviour lead to gross impunity and violence carried out on people’s bodies for unprovoked and unsolicited reasons. Legislature that seeks to police and regulate people’s behaviour and sexuality is difficult to control, because it created fear and paranoia of anything different from what is considered the ‘norm’ in a particular community rules over humanity and acceptance. Because of this intolerance for ‘otherness’ it is very possible that many heterosexual people that present their gender orientations outside the accepted and expected binary box will become-if they are not already-targets of the same kinds of hate crimes that non-heteronormative people are subjected to.

The role and responsibility of the Ugandan government is not to regulate human behaviour, but to safeguard the rights and freedoms, which are the birth rights of all people who abide within its borders. Lesbian, bisexual, gay and trans-identifying people too are vulnerable to acts of hate and intolerance and should also be given due consideration when creating legislation that is meant to safeguard the rights of vulnerable groups or people.

Gender non-conforming women and men are mothers, aunts, sisters, brothers, grandmothers and relatives of people who are affected by sexual abuse, and a variety of other kinds of abuse too. A multitude of NGOs, CBOs and CSOs like the Coalition of African Lesbians which have been working on sexuality and gender issues, irrevocably and unapologetically reject any practises that lead to the sexual abuse and oppression of any human, of any age, and any socio-economic status. These organisations have been, and continue to be consistently vocal in their lobbying and advocacy work against abuse in all its manifestations on the continent. This of course includes the abuse of children and women, who at this moment, happen to be the most vulnerable people affected by abuse and violence.

The passing of such a bill pre-disposes all Ugandans to various levels of violence, depending on their assumed or perceived sexual orientation or gender presentation. This has been illustrated in various locally produced reports that show an increase in violence and the targeting of non-heteronormative people-homosexual or not. Such a bill limits the average Ugandan woman or man’s ability to dress, interact, associate and socialize in a way that is comfortable for them, and in many cases respectful to and cognizant of Ugandan social norms and practises. This inadvertently also oppresses a nations ability for creativity and functionality in a variety of spaces. Many Ugandans are already marginalised in many ways and places, and experience growing discrimination and abuse.

There would be widespread impact of such a bill on all Ugandans, from all walks of life, whether heterosexual or homosexual. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-identifying Ugandan women and men do not exist in a bubble and are not removed from everyday society. They are parents, teachers, government workers and law abiding citizens of this country and have a right to exist free of fear and intimidation in a modern, democratic state such as Uganda.

I think it’s very important for the President of the Republic of Uganda, to carefully reconsider his position on the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill, if his decision is as strongly influenced by the Ministry of Health scientific statement as he suggests. Given the nature of the Bill and the nature of the information being gathered, His Excellency Yoweri Museveni should consider and commission an alternative report, carried out over a period of time that allows for more independent research into sexualities in an African context to be done and more facts about homosexuality in Africa be made available to the people of Uganda.

Science as a subject is still growing, and everyday there are new and thrilling discoveries made. Using ‘science’ to enact a bill that would endanger the lives of millions of Ugandan women and men would be history repeating itself. Remember Galileo Galilei? He was placed under house arrest for life by the Catholic Church, for suggesting that the earth revolved around the sun. As it turns out he was right, and the Catholic Church was wrong.  It would be a gross miscarriage of justice to use science to fuel hate, and for Uganda to have to look back in history and be remembered as the country that used science to harm her own people. I don’t want that for Uganda, I certainly don’t need that for Africa.

By Sheena G.


CALL TO ACTION: 10th February 2014


Photo courtesy of

On 20th December 2013, The Lesbian and Gay Bisexual Transgender Community in Uganda woke up to the grim news that the Anti Homosexuality bill, which had been shelved at the end of 2012 had been passed by Parliament. The bill was passed without Quorum and without Prior mandatory inclusion on the Parliament Order Paper. The bill, if passed into law will be a disaster to the Human Rights of LGBT people, a disaster to public health and the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Recent reports in the national and International Media have indicated that the President ‘will not sign’ the bill and hence it is generally believed that the bill is no longer a threat.
We would like to reiterate that this bill is still a huge threat and a treasure to the majority of Ugandans.
It is also worth to note that the power of ascension of a bill doesn’t lay primarily with the President of Uganda. The Parliament of Uganda can also pass the bill into law!
The Constitution provides that the president shall within 30 days after a bill is presented to him/her either:-
• Assent to the bill
• Return the bill to parliament with a request that the bill or a particular provision of it be reconsidered by parliament; or
• Notify the speaker in writing about the decision
The bill may be reconsidered and then presented for the president’s approval. However it may become law without the president’s assent if he/she returns it to parliament two times. It should have the support of at least two-thirds of all MPs.

Why the Day of Action?
If we remain silent, we shall suffer at the hands of Ugandan leaders that have no respect for Human Rights! Silence will not protect us!! We need to speak out against Injustice; We need to speak out FOR Human Rights! We need to speak out against the Anti Homosexuality Bill. We need you to Let Uganda know, through this Day of Action, that the world is watching. We Must demand Justice and respect for Human Rights for all Ugandans.

Reach out to your family, your co-worker, your friend, your partner; Make sure they join you in speaking out for Human Rights.

Thanks You for the Solidarity!

Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law

First they came for the Jews. I was silent. I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists. I was silent. I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists. I was silent. I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me. There was no one left to speak for me.Martin Niemoller

Report: Expanded Criminalisation of Homosexuality in Uganda: A Flawed Narrative [Empirical evidence and strategic alternatives from an African perspective]


Image courtesy of

Richard Dawkins once said that ‘Science replaces private prejudice with public, verifiable evidence.’ This was especially true, and necessary for sexuality and gender activists in Uganda, when they launched, and presented their report, Expanded Criminalisation of Homosexuality in Uganda: A Flawed Narrative [Empirical evidence and strategic alternatives from an African perspective. With Ugandan president only recently refusing to sign the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill, and calling for ‘scientific proof that homosexuality is not genetic’. Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) presented the President’s office with their report-which could not have come at a better time.

 The situation for homosexual, gender-non conforming and transgender people is precarious, and not just in Uganda, but all across the African continent. There have been increased reports of hate crimes targeted at people who are either perceived to be homosexual or people that publicly affirm their non-heterosexual orientation and identity. The attacks on these women and men in Africa are carried out systematically-by organs of the state that suppress people’s rights to access and live constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms; and also privately and in social and public places where members of the public intolerant and ignorant to other’s rights and freedoms, attack, assault, injure and in in cases, kill people. These hate crimes go unreported, uninvestigated and ultimately unsolved. State law enforcement machinery, for one, should be compelled to protect vulnerable citizens that are attacked for the crime of being different. But in Uganda, it appears, the police themselves are the aggressors, and using tip-offs from the public target Ugandan citizens perceived to be homosexual, and parade them in-front of media, thus subjecting them to even more humiliation.

 Anti-homosexuality propaganda is wrought with superstition, whole lies and myths. Without the proper information on different sexual orientations and gender identities, and rapidly shrinking spaces for having these conversations-the SMUG report has come at the right time, to help Ugandan lawmakers, members of government and the general public separate the chaff from the wheat-and have true, factual and scientific evidence.

This report uses scientific, historical, anthropological and comparative social data from other sub-Saharan African states to debunk the theories behind the Anti-Homosexuality Bill passed by Parliament as not only factually unfounded but also essentially un-African.

 Below is an outline of the findings of the report:

 i. Uganda’s own Human Rights Commission, in its Annual Report of 2009, indicated that the proposed law would violate Uganda’s international human rights treaty obligations and fail to address issues such as HIV prevention and coercive or forced sexual relations.

ii. Historical and anthropological evidence shows that same sex relationships existed throughout Africa, including in the territories that now make up Uganda, long before colonisation by Western powers.

iii. Current homophobic attitudes date from the colonial period and are strongest in those countries that were once part of the British Empire. Uganda’s laws criminalising homosexuality stem entirely from laws introduced by the British colonial administration in 1902 and 1950 in an attempt to counter what was seen at the time as dangerous sexual tendencies among Ugandans. Ubuntu (or ‘African humanism’) extends tolerance towards and acceptance of other sexualities, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. Consequently, it is more correct to see homophobia as alien to Africa rather than homosexuality.

iv. According to the widespread consensus of psychiatric and psychological bodies, same-sex attraction is not an alterable mental disorder.

v. Homosexuality does not affect the traditional Ugandan Family Unity. The two countries with the highest fertility and birth rates in the world do not criminalise homosexuality. Countries such as Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and Congo, which have never criminalised homosexuality, do not have ever-increasing populations of gay men and lesbian women, and the traditional African family unit which forms part of their respective societies is alive and well.

vi. Incontrovertible scientific data, which has been acknowledged by various African and international figures, shows that the spread of HIV is actually facilitated by expanded criminalisation of homosexuality.

vii. Child sexual abuse will not be prevented by this bill banning sexual relations between two consenting adults. Instead, sex with minors, who are by definition under the age of consent, should be criminalised.

viii. Gay and lesbian people are not seeking special privileges or rights, they are simply seeking enforcement of the rights enjoyed by all Ugandans under the 1995 Constitution of Uganda.

Drawing on this data the report makes four recommendations as political and legislative alternatives to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill:

 a. Amend sexual offense laws to ensure offenses and sentences are gender neutral so all perpetrators can be brought to justice.

 b. Implement a system of mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse. c. Increase access to health services without discrimination

Download a copy of the report here.