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By finding common ground, SMUG was able to form alliances with other groups.When it comes to persuading and influencing, Pepe says “Being knowledgeable is very important.
“When we arrest gay people, we take them to the courts of law,” said Mr Kayima.
“Acknowledging that, we had to weigh what our strengths were and ask who would complement those strengths.
And what our weaknesses were, and who could hold our hand through those weaknesses.” Then followed a period of reading and research, and examining the Constitution to see how it could protect the rights of Uganda’s LGBTI citizens.
Homosexuality was banned in Uganda in 1952 and offenders can be sentenced to life in prison.
Gay Ugandans have faced a fortnight of attacks and intimidation, say human rights campaigners, after a local newspaper published a list of the country's "top 100 homosexuals".
The year is 2004, and young activists from the newly formed Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) are repeatedly met with a cold reception when they approach organisations for support.
“Having sagging jeans was kind of fashionable,” says Pepe Julian Onziema, Programme Director and Advocacy Officer at SMUG.“We worked one day at a time knowing we could be shut down any minute, or arrested and jailed,” says Pepe. SMUG used every means possible – social media, radio, television, even texts – to broadcast what was happening and call for solidarity from families, diplomats and supporters abroad.Only 10 years previously, SMUG had gone to such lengths – by changing their appearance and reading up on the Constitution – to win round civil organisations. Some organisations no longer wanted to work with them.Indeed these laws do affect the fundamental human rights of the affected persons to access health care.Instead, they will be imprisoned yet they should be given the best health care and counseling services.“When the law was proposed, and we could evidently see that it was about silencing voices and prohibiting advocacy, we decided we could not [oppose it] alone.” SMUG persuaded other organisations to support the campaign against the bill by pointing out that, if it became law, it would affect their freedoms and activities too.