Kampala Uganda; 17th MAY 2020
Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) joins the rest of the world to commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (Idahobit). The 17th of May is a day dedicated to awareness raising about the stigma, discrimination, violence and repression targeting the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer communities around the world.
‘Breaking the Silence’ is the universal theme for IDAHOBIT this year 2020. This is so timely for LGBTIQ Ugandans and our allies to once again say ‘enough is enough’. We are breaking the silence on the increase in prosecution (raids, arbitrary arrests and detention) and persecution (evictions physical and psychological harm) of LGBTIQ Persons that go unreported by the media or by other human rights reports as reported and recorded by SMUG.
In recollection of the last twelve months since the IDAHOBIT 2019 being hosted at Chapter Four Premises was disrupted by the Uganda Police Force Uganda Police Disrupt IDAHOBIT. Since then we have recorded 4 brutal LGBT Killings in the months of August and September (2019). Over 257 arbitrary arrests and detentions- In October 2019 police officers arrested 16 people from a shelter in Wakiso District on suspicion of homosexuality, further raided another group of 125 people in an LGBTIQ friendly social space in Kampala and subsequently charged them with being a ‘public nuisance’. In January 2020; the Police arrested and charged two people in Kayunga, On 6th March 2020, raided 13 LGBTIQ persons on an HIV outreach in Masaka District and detained them overnight and released the following day without clear charges and their properties returned. In the same month of March 29th, an LGBT shelter run by COSF in Kyengera was raided 23 people arrested and 19 of them remain in remand for over 40 days.
“It saddens me deeply that 19 members of my community are incarcerated as we mark IDAHOBIT2020. At SMUG we will not rest until our colleagues are set free and the human rights of LGBTIQ Ugandans are upheld.” Frank Mugisha, Executive Director “The world should not forget Ugandan LGBTIQ community as the situation is not getting any better.”
We have since continued to register cases of persecution; documented and condemned 80 evictions, 25 family banishment, and more 45 physical attacks as a result of the state sanctioned homophobia. We further witnessed a section of legislators float the idea of a new Anti-Homosexuality Bill which was dismissed by the Executive. Furthermore, the lesbian, bisexual and queer women have registered rape and other forms of sexual violence and harassment.
“Queer animosity because of heteronormativity needs to be addressed. The time is now to break the silence on sexual and gender-based violence faced by LBQ women.” Gloriah Mutyaba – Programs Director, FARUG.
As we mark IDAHOBIT this Sunday 17th May 2020; it is blatant that the Uganda Police Force officers have continuously disregarded the rights to liberty, privacy, dignity and equality of LGBTIQ Ugandans whom they have wantonly stripped of fundamental human rights.
“Legislation is made to regulate conduct of people and so it comes after the existence of human beings. We should learn to respect humanity and ultimately treat everyone with dignity regardless of our positions in society.” Douglas Mawadri, Head Legal-SMUG.
On behalf of the lesbian gay bisexual transgender, intersex and Queer community in Uganda, we reiterate our CALL TO ACTION;
Government of Uganda
1. We call upon the Government of Uganda; to ensure the security, safety and well–being of all Ugandans regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.
2. We urge the police authorities and other law enforcement agents to protect and respect the fundamental human rights of LGBTIQ people in Uganda, consistent with the Constitution of Uganda.
3. We further urge the leadership of the Uganda Police Force, Uganda Human Rights Commission and the Directorate of Public Prosecutions to investigate the raids and arrests targeting LGBTIQ persons, and ensure that those who abuse their positions of power are held accountable for human rights violations committed against the LGBTIQ community.
Diplomatic Corps and International Partners
1. To the Diplomatic corps to raise concerns about discrimination with the government of Uganda and to ensure that their multilateral partnerships protect the rights of all Ugandans regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
2. To international allies to engage all their capitals to diplomatically engage the government of Uganda to stop any form of violence perpetrated against sexual and gender minorities.
1. We urge you to stay calm, vigilant and immediately report any violations to the relevant security agencies, police, local councils and relevant local organizations.
1. We call upon the media fraternity, both local and international, to refrain from publishing subjective and sensational stories about LGBTIQ issues.
2. We call upon the media to respectfully break the silence by reporting cases concerning human rights violation of LGBTIQ persons without prejudice or subjecting them to further risk by exposing their faces to the public, addresses and other personal details.
“Breaking the Silence” Together.