Pepe Julian Onziema Voted Hero of the Year at the 2014 Stonewall Awards

In November 2014, SMUG Programme Director Pepe Onziema was recognised as Stonewall’s hero of the year after battling anti-gay laws in the African nation despite threats to his life. Below is his acceptance speech.

“Dear Ladies, Gentlemen and All non-conforming guests,

I bring you greetings from my family, my colleagues at Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and from my partner who sadly could not be beside me today.

It’s indeed an honor to be in your presence this evening as your selected Hero of the Year 2014. I have never seen myself as a hero, in fact I’m a simple servant contributing to the much needed change in transgender, lesbian, gay, bisexual and intersex lives and it humbles me greatly that you think of me as such.

This has been a year of great endurance, patience and courage. We came close to facing the death penalty legally, and life in prison. We came close to being called traitors coz of the international uproar about our situation, but still we live to continue the struggle locally.

 This award, and other efforts of the international community, are hugely significant, because they help keep an eye on the situation in Uganda, and boost local energies and efforts.

It’s great to be here amongst friends and to know that we are united in our journey and work for global equality.

 I accept this award on behalf of everyone who faces discrimination, imprisonment and death because of who they love and who they simply are, across the globe.

 I thank you.”

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