LGBTI in Uganda: How to survive a pandemic

Get ready for “In the Eyes of a Pandemic”, a documentary about how the Ugandan LGBTI and sex workers communities are coping with Covid-19. See the trailer below.

From the African Human Rights Media Network

Early in the pandemic, residents of the Children of the Sun Foundation homeless shelter in Uganda were abused during their arrest on charges — later dismissed — of violating Covid-19 lockdown orders. (Screen shot from “In the Eyes of a Pandemic”)

A gay-led arts organization working for the rights of sexual and gender minorities is developing a documentary about how Ugandan LGBT and sex workers communities are coping with the Covid-19 pandemic, including their strategies for the future.

The documentary includes interviews with well-known Ugandan activists such as Sam Ganafa of Spectrum Uganda Initiatives, Richard Lusimbo from Pan-Africa ILGA, Kyomya Macklean from Alliance of Women Advocating for Change and others.  They discuss the effects of the  Covid-19 pandemic, how Ugandan politicians are using it to oppress LGBTI Ugandans, and the community’s strategies for continuing their struggle for justice and human rights.

The video is a project of East African Visual Artists, a Uganda-based gay-led organization that uses visual arts to advocate for the human rights of sexual and gender minorities.

Harsh enforcement of Covid-19 lockdown rules in Uganda. (Screen shot from “In the Eyes of a Pandemic”)

“We saw, from the very start of the lockdown, government officials, politicians — they used Covid on presidential directives … to attack the LGBTI community” Lusimbo states in the trailer.

He adds, “Again the world is making a mistake whereby they are always finding a reason to blame or create a situation that it’s due to LGBTI that something is happening.”

Describing the plight of sex workers who are dying with nothing to eat,  Macklean states, “So they decided not to take their drugs any more. So people are taking risks [saying] ‘I would rather go and try my luck out there than to stay home and see my children cry for me’.”

View the trailer below.


Correction: This article was revised on Oct. 10, 2020, to describe East African Visual Artists as a gay-led organization, which is more accurate than calling it a gay-friendly organization.