In most African countries, LGBTI rights are either limited or nonexistent. In East Africa, however, the LGBT community is rising up to challenge homophobic attitudes and laws. This February saw the Kenyan LGBT community reach a historic milestone: a Kenyan court began hearing arguments in a case that seeks to repeal laws criminalizing gay sex. The laws were introduced in Kenya in 1897, when the country was under British rule. People convicted of a violation face up to 14 years in prison.
The law prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, disability, language, or social status but is silent on sexual orientation and gender identity. The penal code, however, prohibits “unnatural offenses.” The government did not enforce the law in matters of locally or culturally prevalent discrimination against women, children, persons... Expand
The law prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, disability, language, or social status but is silent on sexual orientation and gender identity. The penal code, however, prohibits “unnatural offenses.” The government did not enforce the law in matters of locally or culturally prevalent discrimination against women, children, persons with disabilities, or certain ethnic groups.
Consensual same-sex sexual conduct is illegal, according to a colonial-era law that criminalizes “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” and provides for a penalty up to life imprisonment. While authorities did not convict any persons under the law, the government arrested persons for this and related offenses.
On February 24, President Museveni--who called LGBT persons “disgusting”--signed into law the AHA, which the National Assembly passed in 2013. The AHA criminalizes, outlaws, and provides harsh prison terms for same-sex relationships, “promoting” homosexuality, or “aiding and abetting” homosexual acts. On July 29, activists filed a petition in the Constitutional Court seeking to overturn the AHA, claiming the National Assembly passed the law without the necessary quorum and that the law violated the rights of individuals under the constitution. On August 1, the Constitutional Court nullified the law, noting the National Assembly’s speaker had “acted illegally” by not establishing a quorum before its passage.
LGBT persons faced discrimination, legal restrictions, and societal harassment and violence, intimidation, and threats. They were denied access to health services. Several LGBT persons were charged with engaging in “acts against the order of nature” and indecency, and their cases were pending at year’s end. For example, on February 12, police in Masaka District arrested John Sseruwu on charges of performing unnatural acts prohibited under the penal code. Police released Sseruwu on bail, and hearing of the case was pending.
Police arrested several persons following the passage of the AHA, and human rights organizations reported the LGBT community faced increased discrimination.
Authorities targeted several projects suspected of “promoting” homosexuality. For example, on March 14, the minister of relief, disaster preparedness, and refugees, Hilary Onek, suspended the activities of the RLP pending investigation into allegations the project was “promoting” homosexuality. On May 20, the project received a letter from the permanent secretary, signed by the OPM’s commissioner for refugees, extending the suspension of the Kampala office. Despite the nullification of the AHA and the elimination of the basis for any charge, Minister Onek refused to lift the suspension of the RLP.
On April 3, police in Kampala raided a foreign-funded project that offered HIV/AIDS services to patients, including members of the LGBT community, on suspicion the project “promoted” homosexuality. On April 4, the project suspended its activities in the country after authorities arrested a member of its local staff. Police did not produce any information regarding their investigation of the project and in October sent a letter stating they had dropped the case.
In 2013 the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) reported that, of the 15 LGBT organizations that submitted applications, eight were registered with the URSB. The HRAPF confirmed in November that the remaining seven organizations were subsequently registered with the URSB.
In November the HRAPF reported that police dropped the case against Patrick Musoke, a member of Kampus Liberty Uganda, who was arrested on suspicion of engaging in illegal “unnatural acts” in February 2013.
Some religious and political leaders delivered church sermons and wrote articles to lobby the public against LGBT persons. On March 31, the Inter-religious Council of Uganda, with substantial support from the government, held a major rally thanking parliamentarians for passing the AHA. At the rally, President Museveni and other major religious leaders pledged to continue efforts to discriminate against LGBT individuals and those who called for LGBT rights.
Unlike in the previous year, the government did not block meetings organized by LGBT groups.
On June 23, the High Court in Kampala dismissed a 2012 petition filed by four LGBT activists accusing the minister of ethics and integrity and the attorney general of illegally closing a workshop organized by Freedom and Roam Uganda in Entebbe in 2012. The court ruled the minister acted in the public interest to protect the moral values of society. The minister reportedly told the court the participants were distributing literature intended to “train and recruit others into homosexuality.” The court ordered the petitioners to compensate the minister. The petitioners have not appealed.
Source: U.S. Department of State's  Human Rights Report
Gay rights activists from Commonwealth countries are demanding that laws banning homosexuality should be overturned. Campaigner Peter Tatchell has said people face violence and imprisonment just because they are gay. The British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, promised the Olympic diver Tom Daley that he would raise the issue at the Commonwealth summit. So, where is homosexuality still outlawed? There are 53 countries in the Commonwealth and most of them are former British colonies. Out of those, 37 have laws that criminalise homosexuality.
Uganda’s president has warned the country’s citizens not to engage in “outsider” sexual practices such as oral sex. In a televised press conference, President Yoweri Museveni said: “Let me take this opportunity to warn our people publicly about the wrong practices indulged in and promoted by some of the outsiders.” “The mouth is for eating, not for sex,” he said, adding: “We know the address of sex; we know where sex is.”
100,000 people have signed a petition calling on Commonwealth countries to roll back their anti-gay laws. More than one billion people live in Commonwealth countries with colonial-era gay sex laws. Many Commonwealth countries continue to enforce penal codes that were first introduced under the British Empire, and never repealed. They include 10 years imprisonment and hard labour in Jamaica, 14 years in Kenya, 20 years plus flogging in Malaysia, and 25 years in Trinidad and Tobago. Homosexuality is punishable by death in member states Brunei and the northern part of Nigeria. Edwin Sesange, who launched the petition said: “The demand for equality is no longer an issue for the minority but for the majority."
Isaac Mugisha, co-ordinator of Pride Uganda, is determined and optimistic that Ugandan LGBTIs will hold a Pride event in Kampala later this year, without it being shut down by the authorities. If the event does go ahead, it will be the first Pride held successfully in the East African country since 2015. In 2016, as reported by The Daily Beast, Uganda Pride events were the subject of a brutal crackdown by police. Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), his colleagues, and others were arrested and detained. In the chaos, one gay man fell four stories and suffered horrendous injuries.
Ugandan rights organization Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) was the target of a violent break-in on the night of February 8, 2018, Human Rights Watch said today. HRAPF works to protect the rights of marginalized groups including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, and sex workers. The group reported that unidentified assailants broke into its office overnight, disabled parts of the security system, and slashed two guards with machetes, severely injuring them. The break-in continues a string of burglaries and attacks on the offices of independent nongovernmental groups in Uganda, including a previous attack on HRAPF in May 2016, in which a security guard was beaten to death and documents were stolen.
A bisexual Ugandan woman’s application for refugee status failed to clear the [South Korean] Supreme Court hurdle. It marks the second time a lower-court verdict in favor of recognizing refugee status for an LGBT individual was reversed by the Supreme Court, after a case last year involving a gay Egyptian man.
Ugandan police raided and forcibly closed the Queer Kampala International Film Festival on December 9, 2017, Human Rights Watch said today. The festival featured films and documentaries portraying the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) people. Police offered no formal legal basis for forcibly shutting down the festival. The festival, held for the second year in Kampala, began on December 8. The festival organizer, Kamoga Hassan, told Human Rights Watch that the opening night was successful. A large audience responded positively to the films, he said, which included stories of LGBTIQ people coming to terms with their identities, fighting discrimination, engaging in activism, and falling in love. Organizers had hoped the stories shown during the festival would help to educate Ugandans about communities that face discrimination and marginalization in their country.
Police in Uganda today raided the second annual Queer Kampala International Film Festival after allegedly being tipped off about its secret location. Festival organizer Hassan Kamoga, also known as Miracle / Mirakel, stated on Facebook: “A Ugandan LGBT organization which is against the festival has called the police to come and shut the LGBT film Festival in Uganda. I was informed that the police was coming to arrest and beat up all the participants. … Within hours the police came in.”
UNAIDS’s Equal Eyes recap of the world’s LGBT news has highlighted ways people are using written and visual communication to advocate for recognition of human rights, especially LGBT people’s rights, in South Africa, Nigeria, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Uganda.
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