How Uganda’s Anti-Gay Law Hurts Women

In 2008 a colleague and l were in Uganda’s capital Kampala to attend an awareness session on domestic violence in minority communities. The organizers, a lesbian group, were partly funded by our organization, the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF), which is a pan-African grant making foundation based in my home country, Ghana.

After a few unsuccessful efforts to meet them, we eventually saw the association’s members very briefly. Since tension was already rising over gay issues in Uganda, they were fearful of harassment by the local community. The atmosphere in their office was tense and the women kept checking the main gate to ensure it was properly locked and spoke in low tones throughout the meeting. One of them told us about how she frequently had to change homes because, as a lesbian, she had been harassed by people in her neighbourhood. She told us that these restrictions had badly affected her work and income.

Two years later, in 2010, a women’s rights organization that AWDF supports was blocked from organizing a leadership training workshop for sex workers in Kampala. They had sought to provide a safe space for sex workers to share information and gain skills to advance their rights, improve their safety and secure their livelihoods. But the then-Ugandan Minister of Ethics and Integrity considered the meeting morally wrong and ordered…

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