In recent years, LGBTQ+ activists in Kenya and Uganda have been at the forefront of the fight for equality, challenging discriminatory laws, attitudes, and policies. While Kenya has seen successful campaigns like #TheQueerRepublic, the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights extends beyond national borders. A parallel battle is taking place in neighboring Uganda, where activists are facing significant challenges in their quest for justice and acceptance.
In December 2021, the late Professor George Magoha, who was then the Education Cabinet Secretary-Kenya, issued a directive that not only deprived queer children of quality education but also fueled negative attitudes, stigma, and discrimination against them. He stated, “Right now there are contemporary cases of children who are homosexual and lesbian, they must go to day schools close to their homes. Your responsibility as headteachers should be for the greater majority, not a few individuals. Do not allow yourself to be intimidated by children.”
These remarks by the Education Cabinet Secretary were not only harmful but also sexualized children, denying them the opportunity to receive the best education in institutions of their choice. Moreover, these comments violated the safety and protection of children. By mandating that learners perceived to be LGBTQ+ attend day schools, their education was disrupted, and they were exposed to the risk of being disowned by their families or facing attacks from homophobic members of society.
In response to this injustice, Marylize Biubwa, a black Radical and Angry queer intersectional feminist and activist initiated a petition in collaboration with allout.org. The aim of the petition was to bring about change and ensure the safety of LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly children, in Kenya. It called upon allies from Kenya and around the world, media outlets, and individuals from various backgrounds to join #TheQueerRepublic in signing the petition. The objective was to guarantee a secure and inclusive environment for kids in Kenya. You can find the petition at the following link: https://action.allout.org/en/m/78d631fb/?utm_campaign=mgp-78d631fb&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social_share-
The petition gained momentum in January 2022, and Marylize Biubwa, along with other dedicated activists, organized a protest to voice their opposition to the Education Cabinet Secretary’s remarks and the government’s intention to ban queer children from enrolling in boarding schools. The protest was a powerful expression of unity and resilience, drawing attention to the unjust treatment of LGBT+ individuals in Kenya. It served as a powerful symbol of resistance and a call for change. https://fb.watch/lzCO1AEXZs/?mibextid=KZAQMH
The success of the protest was further solidified when the activists received official approval to conduct the demonstration. This acknowledgment not only validated their cause but also demonstrated the government’s recognition of the importance of protecting the rights of all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
As a result of the campaign’s efforts, The Queer Republic, an organization dedicated to advocating for LGBTQ+ rights, became institutionalized, providing a platform for ongoing activism and support. This story serves as a testament to the power of collective action, determination, and the unwavering belief in equality and justice. By standing together and speaking out against discrimination, the ILGBTQ+ activists and organizations in Kenya have made significant strides towards a more inclusive and accepting society.
Despite the adversity they face, LGBTQ+ activists in Uganda continue to demonstrate extraordinary courage and resilience . They strive to create safe spaces, provide support networks, and advocate for their rights against all odds. Organizations like Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) work tirelessly to protect and amplify the voices of the LGBTQ+ community, challenging discriminatory laws and providing vital assistance to those in need.
The fight for LGBTQ+ rights in Uganda requires international solidarity and support. The global community must join forces with local activists, amplifying their voices, and pressuring governments to uphold human rights and end discrimination. Continued awareness campaigns, petitions, and diplomatic efforts are vital to create lasting change and provide hope for LGBTQ+ individuals in Uganda and East Africa community.