Today is a sad day for us queer people in Africa, but especially for those of us who live in East Africa. Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a local non-governmental organization that advocates for queer people has been banned by the government and ordered to immediately cease operation.
SMUG has provided much needed advocacy for the Ugandan queer community since its establishment in 2004 and has played a critical role in the lives of queer people. It promotes access to health services, it encourages queer people to live more openly and supports and protects queer people.
SMUG and its members such as David Keto – who was murdered – are examples of bravery and what can be achieved when we organize as a community. Uganda has come a long way in regards to queer visibility because of the way that activists have unapologetically stood for themselves and their communities.
The shutting down of SMUG is yet another attempt by yet another African country to silence yet another African queer community. As Frank Mugisha, SMUG’s director said, “This is a clear witch hunt rooted in systematic homophobia, fuelled by anti-gay and anti-gender movements”.
Queer Ethiopia has no doubt that this is a minor setback for SMUG. We have no doubt that SMUG will find a way to continue operating and advocating for the queer community. We have no doubt that SMUG will not be silenced.
We stand in solidarity with SMUG and our fellow African queer people.