In show of solidarity and determination, rural members of the LGBTQ community and allies took to the streets yesterday to demand the halting of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023 that’s was unanimously passed by the Ugandan Members of Parliament in March 2023.

The atmosphere was rife with fervor as the protester who wore both black and red, two of the colors in the Ugandan National Flag that symbolize ‘Africanacity’ and brotherhood chanted slogans and carried sigh a denouncing the government’s actions to spark continued violence and stigmatization of LGBTQ Ugandans.

A transgender community leader – Gafidyn Rae, addressed the crowd, saying, “Our existence is not a privilege but a fundamental right, and we should not stand idly by as the government cuts off that right!”

She reminded the LGBTQ members that, “In every fight and every victory, there has to be bloodshed, but we have to question ourselves with, for what blood and for what reason is it being shed for? Is it warm blood for a fight to liberate ourselves, for respect and inclusiveness or is it cold blood for the silence we take, just because we are afraid of the margins that have been designed for us.”

She continued and urged that, “we no longer have to beg for our respect, our peace, or rights- we DEMAND, for our rights!” She insisted that it is high time LGBTQ persons hold the state and its actors accountable for the protection of LGBTQ persons as Ugandans.

She thanked all the participants for not fawning and accepting to take their frustration, anger and fear to demand and demonstrate for what is rightfully theirs i.e. respect, peace, love and above all life among other things. She added on that, while it is very sweet and good that the international society is standing in solidarity with us as an embattled community against this inhumane and draconian act, it is far more crucial for us to stand up as well as say enough is enough! “We’re Queer, we’re here and they should get over it!”

The protesters carried signs with slogans such as “LOVE IS LOVE”, “EQUAL RIGHTS 4 ALL”, and “LGBTQ PEOPLE ARE HUMAN”. They also chanted slogans such as “Hey hey, ho ho, homophobic policies have to go” and “No hate, no fear, everyone is welcome here”.

The protests were much peaceful but energetic, with participants marching through streets of Mbale and staging a sit in next to the District’s headquarters in Malukhu.

Patra a transgender man identifying protester said, “The LGBTQ community has faced discrimination and marginalization for too long, and this protest righ now, serves as a powerful reminder that we will not be silenced or ignore anymore.”

The protest organizers, leaders of a local rural transgender led group – Initiative of Trans With  Mission (ITWAM) Uganda through their LET ME, BE ME CAMPAIGN supported by Het Actiefonds said, “It is high time we say fuck the system, fuck the culture, fuck religion, fuck punitive policies, fuck anything and everything that contradicts with basic rules of humanity which are love and kindness. This message was branded and embroidered in black T-Shirts they wore quoting that, “Sex is cool but have you ever fucked the system?”

The team leader of ITWAM, said that, “As a minority group, state actors normally minimize our being to just that… minorities, but the fact is that if they continue oppressing us and pushing us to our margins, we will eventually have to fight back”. She added on that, “It is this time, when we mark the beginnings of our liberation”

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023 which was passed by the Parliament of Uganda unanimously on the evening of 21st March, 2023, criminalizing LGBTQ identifying individuals – imposing what have been called “harshest penalties” on the continent including life imprisonment and a death penalty.

The Act that has been waiting assenting by the Ugandan President for over a month now, and has received negative attention and harsh criticism from the international society on its effects and implications on the Global fight of HIV/AIDS and Human Rights has been sent back to Parliament by the President for certain amendments on guidance and recommendations from the Attorney General.