2018 Advocate Pepe Julian Onziema Speaks Out on Ugandan Agency’s Actions

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

On August 3, 2022, the Ugandan National Bureau for Non-Governmental Organizations, the government body that regulates NGOs in Uganda, halted the operations of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) for non-registration with the body.

2018 Advocate Pepe Julian Onziema told ISHR: “This decision is arbitrary, and unacceptable. As SMUG leaders, we are working round the clock to get the NGO Bureau's decision overturned and restore our life saving work." He added that the decision “has automatically increased the LGBTIQ community's vulnerability.”
In response to the decision, SMUG shared the following information in their press release: “It should be noted that in 2012, Frank Mugisha and others applied to the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) under the Section 18 of the companies Act, 2012, for the reservation of the name of the proposed company. In a letter dated 16th February 2016, the URSB rejected the application to reserve the name ‘Sexual Minorities Uganda’ on the grounds that the name was ‘undesirable and un-registrable that the proposed company to be incorporated to advocate for the rights and wellbeing of Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer persons, which persons are engaged in activities labeled criminal acts under sec.145 of the Penal Code Act.’ A decision that was upheld by the High Court of Uganda. 
“The refusal to legalize SMUG’s operations that seek to protect LGBTQ people who continue to face major discrimination in Uganda, actively encouraged by political and religious leaders was a clear indicator that the government of Uganda and its agencies are adamant and treat Ugandan gender and sexual minorities as second-class citizens. These further compromises efforts to demand for better health services and escalates the already volatile environment for the LGBTQ community.”