When Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) was founded in March of 2004, its website’s domain name was “smug.org” as the Ugandan Constitution stipulates that any Ugandan can create an organization. Soon after the website’s release, SMUG employees noticed junk advertisements flooding the website. After approximately a week of inundating junk information, SMUG employees were unable to login into the website.
Soon thereafter, the SMUG website as the organisation knew it was gone. Currently, the domain name “smug.org” somewhat interestingly belongs to the Linkedin profile of a cyber security specialist.
After this incipient hacking, SMUG purchased the domain name “sexualminoritiesuganda.org” for its new website. This website was also hacked in the same fashion as the original one. Now, searching “sexualminoritiesuganda.org” returns with that all too familiar “Problem Loading Page.”
SMUG once again created a new website, this time with the domain name “sexualminoritiesuganda.net.” It was hacked in 2013. Typing in this url directs you to a non-medical website that claims to teach you “everything about testosterone levels, boosters, diet and fitness.”
Currently, SMUG’s website domain name is “sexualminoritiesuganda.com.” This is an unfortunate title considering Sexual Minorities Uganda is registered as an organization in the United States and is recognized internationally as a non-profit and non-governmental organization. However, the Ugandan government refuses to allow SMUG to register as a local NGO.
SMUG does not know what entity continues to hack its website, or whether it is the same entity that has been hacking it since the mid-2000s. While the Ugandan government is unsupportive of SMUG, it is not clear that it had any part in the hackings.
Operating in a hostile environment is just one of the many obstacles that SMUG faces on a daily basis. The numerous hackings into the SMUG website have served as barriers between SMUG and its local, national, and international outreach efforts. While attempts to suppress SMUG continue, the organization persists because its employees have a clear mission: to support and eventually liberate the LGBTI community in Uganda.