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377. The Law on which the Sun Never Set

By Lola García-Ajofrín (about Sri Lanka)  and De Lovie Kwagala (about Uganda)

In the 19th century, the British brought the so called ‘sodomy law’ to all its colonies. 161 years later, LGBTIQ+ community in some 30 countries still fights to Repeal It.

In 2021, there are at least 68 countries where same-sex sexual relations are illegal. More than half of those countries have one thing in common – once they were British colonies. Their penal codes include crimes under the label of “unnatural offences” that were first introduced by colonizers into the Indian Penal Code in 1860 under Section 377 and then across the British Empire.

In the early 1920s, it was said that “the sun never sets” on Britain’s lands, because when it was noon in London, it was midnight on the island of Fiji, which was a British colony until 1970. Britain began its first attempt to establish overseas settlements in the 16th century. Expansion accelerated during the 17th and 18th century driven by maritime competition with France. By 1920, it covered approximately one-quarter of the Earth’s total land area, including over 80 nations.

Most of those countries gained independence gradually during the early 20th century, and many of the remaining countries achieved independence following the end of the Second World War. ” However, in about thirty of those territories, an archaic colonial law remained: Section 377 on “unnatural offences.”

Section 377 does not explicitly refer to LGTB people. Still, it criminalizes what it called “unnatural” acts, including anal sex or sex with animals. It has been used as a tool to punish same-sex acts for a century and a half – in countries as distant and disparate as parts of the Caribbean, East Africa or Southeast Asia.

From Asia to Africa or the Caribbean

Section 377 was introduced by British colonizers into the Indian Penal Code in 1860 and then across British Empire. “It was at the heart of the British colonizing project. Brits were seeking to subject people in its colonies not just to British control but also to British morality,” explains Neela Ghoshal, Associate Director in the LGBT Rights program at Human Rights Watch. “That law was a tool to control people’s bodies, to control people’s sexuality and get them in line with British morality, if not, they would be punished,” Ghosal continues.

It was not the only law that has been used in that kind of way. “There are a whole bunch of laws that are products of British colonization, a lot of them related to class politics, around things like vagrancy,” Neela Ghoshal continues.

One of the reasons these laws were not repealed after the independence of these countries from the British colony is because “they continue to serve the interest of governments even in post-colonial societies,” Ghosal concludes.

377 – When the Indian court quoted Shakspeare

Belize (2016), Trinidad and Tobago (2018) and India (2018) are the last former British colonies that abolished the homophobic colonial legacy from their criminal codes.

In 2018, in India, where it all began, the step was taken towards a historic sentence. India’s Supreme Court repealed the colonial-era Section 377, quoting Shakespeare:

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

However, LGTBIQ+ communities in some thirty countries still fight to repeal the homophobic legacy from its penal codes.

This is the case in countries as far away as Uganda and Sri Lanka, among many others.

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SECTIONS 365 & 365A IN SRI LANKA

Meet the LGBTIQ+ Community in Sri Lanka Who is Fighting Stigma, Suicides and Forced Marriages

On September 6, 2018, after a years-long battle of activists and lawyers, the Indian Supreme Court decriminalized same-sex consensual acts in India by repealing Section 377. In the neighbouring country, Sri Lanka, the LGBTIQ + community followed the event with expectation. Would the historic ruling set a precedent to remove the archaic colonial law from its penal code too?

In Colombo, Sri Lanka, a lawyer who had overcome several suicide attempts, a filmmaker who had broken social taboos and a retiree who had recently come out as a trans woman dreamed of a change for a little while that day.

BACKGROUND – A LAW FROM 1883

Sri Lankan penal code has some provisions of ‘copy and paste’ of Indian Section 377. They are Sections 365 and 365A on “unnatural offences,” which have been used to criminalize the LGBTIQ+ community for over a century. The Sri Lankan Penal Code was enacted in 1883 by British rulers. It is still in force a century and a half later despite Sri Lanka’s independence from the British crown in 1948.

The British, who firstly enacted a section to criminalize sexual acts “against the order of nature” in India in 1860, replicated those provisions, sometimes with the same words, across all its colonies, including Sri Lanka.

Europeans occupied Sri Lanka for over 400 years. Portuguese (1505–1658), Dutch (1658–1796), and British (1815–1948). Some traces of the occupation remain.

WHAT ARE THE UNNATURAL OFFENCES?

The “unnatural offences” were enacted by British rulers on its colonies to impose puritanical Victorian morality and penalize acts “against the order of nature”, a wide concept that encompasses sex with animals, as well as other types of acts not intended to procreation, such as anal sex or fellatio. In Sri Lanka, these provisions provide for a penalty of up to ten years in prison. Even though they are rarely enforced, the criminalization of LGBTIQ+ people’s lives fuel discrimination and allows impunity for abuses and hate rhetoric against the community.

Additionally, another colonial law, the “Vagrants Ordinance”, which penalizes “every person behaving in a riotous or disorderly manner in any public street”, has been used to criminalize transgender people and sex workers even though the Sri Lankan Constitution should protect the Fundamental Right to Equality under Article 12.

LIVING UNDER SECTIONS 365 & 365A

The number of LGBTIQ+ people that have been arrested or convicted under “unnatural offences” in recent years is unclear. HRW reported that in 2018 “police brought charges against at least nine men for “homosexuality” based on the data from a police performance report.

In addition, HRW and Equal Ground, a local NGO, recently reported that since 2017 Sri Lankan authorities have subjected at least seven people to forced physical examinations,including anal and vaginal examinations, aiming to provide proof of homosexual conduct.

THE PROGRESS & CHALLENGES

The United Nations has repeatedly urged Sri Lanka to amend the Penal Code. However, the recommendations have not been listed so far. On the contrary, section 365A on gross indecency was amended in 1995 to substitute “any male person” and expand it to lesbian.

There has just been some timid progress, such as the gender recognition certificate that allows transgender people to change their national identity Cards.

A STORY OF STIGMA, SHAM MARRIAGES & SUICIDES

How does a 19th-century law affect the lives of people in the 21st century?

Between 2019 and 2020, Outriders interviewed nine members of the LGBTIQ+ community in Sri Lanka. They are: the first trans lawyer in Sri Lanka who survived several suicide attempts; a Muslim doctor and father of a gay man who believes it is time to sit and talk about the social changes; a Buddhist lawyer reporting abuses; a Hindu and Tamil lesbian activist fighting the stigma against “a minority inside a minority”; a Christian gay man and founder of the first organization for gay people in the island; a filmmaker who broke a taboo by screening a triangle story in national cinemas or a 72-years old trans woman who came out after retirement.

They told us about stigma, sham marriages, suicides and arrests.

DAMITH

“Hiding is a kind of mental pressure”

On a couch in his house, surrounded by reports and documents, Damith Chandimal, a Buddhist man and human rights worker, explains that in recent years he has collected “numerous cases of suicides, arrests and abuse against LGTBIQ+ people in Sri Lanka.”

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DAMITH: “Hiding is a kind of mental pressure”

On a couch in his house, surrounded by reports and documents, Damith Chandimal, a Buddhist man and human rights worker, explains that in recent years he has collected “numerous cases of suicides, arrests and abuse against LGTBIQ+ people in Sri Lanka.”

He mentions the research entitled “Dance Ponnaya, Dance!”, a report that includes 24 in-depth interviews with trans sex workers in Colombo from 1999 to 2002. The interviewees reported verbal and physical abuse, forced bribes and even theft by the Sri Lankan police. “Ponnaya” is derogatory slang for trans people in Sri Lanka.

Another interviewee, a trans woman, told Chandimal “that she was offered sex by a police officer when she was courted having sex with another man. “”Trans people and sex workers suffer this kind of bad experience,” Chandimal adds.

In 2016, among the 61 LGBTIQ+ people interviewed by Human Right Watch (HRW) organization in Sri Lanka, 16 of them had experienced physical or sexual assault, including rape, by the police.

In 2018, Deputy Inspector Ajith Rohana, quoted by local media, admitted that there were “isolated incidents of discrimination of LGBTIQ+ people”, but the police was working on it by introducing sensitising programs.

Beyond the arrests, “which rarely get prosecution”, Chandimal adds, such legal framework generates other consequences, such as a social stigma, which makes it very difficult for gay people to accept themselves in Sri Lanka. “You always want to hide your sexuality: from family, from friends, school, colleagues, university, the office mates.” “And hiding is a kind of mental pressure,” he adds.

“It also affects us, for example, in the field of insurance and social protections. A heterosexual person can have family insurance, but I cannot name my boyfriend as a beneficiary,” he continues.

And ultimately, “it affects us in more everyday aspects,” such as renting a house: “If I were openly gay, I would not be in this house.” He remembers a sad event that he suffered some years ago. He still blames himself for it.

Chandimal had rented a room in the flat where he still lives because he needed money. He had never told his landlord about his sexuality. “And no one would say that I am gay, but my roommate was very effeminate ,” he explains. One day the bathroom broke down, and Chandimal had to call the landlord, who, after meeting his roommate, asked him an explanation: “What are you doing living with such a person?” he said. He used the pejorative word “ponnaya”. “And I had to fire him.”  “I still regret it,” he adds, “but what could I do?”

SUSANA

“I wanted to be the girl; I did not want to marry someone else”

In front of a mirror in her bedroom in Colombo, after turning off the hairdryer and making her eyes up with the skills that she learned from YouTube tutorials, Susana explains that when she retired as an accountant, she put the suit and tie in a closet, talked to her wife and came out as a trans woman. She had been struggling with her identity for nearly 70 years. Susana, 72, came out as a trans woman when she retired. She is still married to her wife, a Muslim woman.

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SUSANA: “I wanted to be the girl; I did not want to marry someone else”

In front of a mirror in her bedroom in Colombo, after turning off the hairdryer and making her eyes up with the skills that she learned from YouTube tutorials, Susana explains that when she retired as an accountant, she put the suit and tie in a closet, talked to her wife and came out as a trans woman. She had been struggling with her identity for nearly 70 years. Susana, 72, came out as a trans woman when she retired. She is still married to her wife, a Muslim woman.

Susana, who was raised in a Sri Lankan Muslim family, remembers that when she was three or four years old, she always wanted to be with women, “and I stand in my little cloths acting like a woman, so my mom and all my relatives used to call me “pissu lama” (“mad child” in Sinhalese),” she reminds.

The only conversation about her identity at home came as a teenager when her mother found a bra on the bed, and her father asked her: “Are you gay?” It was the first time that Susana heard that word. “Gay?, I said; what do you mean by gay? Until then, I thought the word  ‘gay’ meant ‘happy’,but I knew my father meant something different,” she explains.

Then, she grew up, passed the exam as an accountant, and got a good job.“And as in other Sri Lankan or Asian families, when you get a job, we all say that we are available in the marriage market,” she explains. Thus, her parents began to look for a girl for her to marry. “I said: I am not ready, I am not ready, I am not ready… because I wanted to be the girl, I did not want to marry someone else,” she remembers.

But then, her parents forced her to marry, and it was a very difficult marriage. They had a daughter, they got divorced, and she remarried. Just only now, after retirement, she took the step and she came out, and “I decided that this would be my life”. 

NGOs have reported numerous cases from LGBTIQ+ individuals in Sri Lanka forced into heterosexual marriages, usually by their family members. Susana says Sections 365 and 365A did not directly affect her, “but since the law is there, people are afraid.”

VISAKESA CHANDRASEKARAM

“A lot of gay men are getting in a traditional heterosexual marriage in Sri Lanka”

Not only did he manage to bypass censorship, but all kinds of audiences liked his film. Filmmaker and human rights lawyer Visakesa Chandrasekaram pioneered by introducing for first time gay protagonists in a Sri Lankan movie, Frangipani (2014). The movie explores the cost of social and family approval in Sri Lankan society. It won several awards, including the Best Foreign Film Director at the 2015 Rio LGBT Film Festival.

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VISAKESA CHANDRASEKARAM:  “A lot of gay men are getting in a traditional heterosexual marriage in Sri Lanka”

Not only did he manage to bypass censorship, but all kinds of audiences liked his film. Filmmaker and human rights lawyer Visakesa Chandrasekaram pioneered by introducing for first time gay protagonists in a Sri Lankan movie, Frangipani (2014). The movie explores the cost of social and family approval in Sri Lankan society. It won several awards, including the Best Foreign Film Director at the 2015 Rio LGBT Film Festival.

“I think this is quite a common story. It happened to a lot of people that I know, a lot of gay men who are of my age and who are getting in a traditional heterosexual marriage,” Chandrasekaram explains in the canteen of the University in Colombo where he teaches Law.

The filmmaker also pioneered by including a trans actress in his movie. “The film was criticized for political incorrectness, however it was interesting that it was the first time that a trans woman was presented, and people felt sympathetic with the character,” he says. He believes that the key to success was that he tried “to make the movie accessible to everybody because if you do it too provocatively, you lose a lot of people.” In addition, he introduced several traditional cultural elements that connected with the local audience, “something that a foreign film would not have achieved.”

Chandrasekaram had used art to address the complexities of same-sex relationships in Sri Lankan society before his theatre play, Katu Yahana (Bed of Nettles) in 2002. He says that the play was “a turning point.”

There were other turning points in the LGBTIQ+ movement in Sri Lanka. He mentions establishing of first Sri Lanka’s gay rights group, Companions on a Journey (COJ), in 1995. Then, the Women’s Support Group emerged as an autonomous body within COJ and organized the first lesbian press conference in 1999. “It had to be cancelled after some media, particularly the newspaper Island, reported the press conference so bad and published a reader’s article saying If these women don’t have a proper man in their life, then they should be forced to have sex,” he explains. Another turning point was in 2005, as the organization Equal Ground 2005 launched the first Colombo Pride, he continues.

In front of a sideboard at his house in Colombo, where there are movie trophies, theatre scripts, books and family portraits, Chandrasekaram talks about the future. He envisions two possible scenarios to repeal this archaic law in Sri Lanka: “The preferable approach would be that the LGBT community passionately advocates for this change and raise a public awareness of the injustice of this archaic law in a modern democracy and then, with the public support they force the government to repeal this law on consensual sex between adults.” Secondly, it would be that the penal code is amended, there have been several amendments in a very quiet manner,” he adds.

Through his movies, Visakesa Chandrasekaram, who comes from a Sinhalese and Buddhist background on her mother’s side and Hindu Tamil on her father’s side, has addressed some of the taboos of Sri Lankan society. In his last film, Paangshu, he addresses the trauma of the families of missing people.  Sri Lanka has one of the highest number of     forced disappearances in the world. Amnesty International estimates that between 60,000 and 100,000 people vanished during the war (from 1983 to 2009).

SHERMAN & MANJU

“They can just come here and talk safely”

On the second floor, above a hairdresser, there is a rainbow flag on the wall. Outside you can hear the melody of motorcycles, tuk-tuks and the chirping of the birds. Sherman de Rose opens the door of a drop-in centre for the LGBT community in Colombo.

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SHERMAN & MANJU: “They can just come here and talk safely”

On the second floor, above a hairdresser, there is a rainbow flag on the wall. Outside you can hear the melody of motorcycles, tuk-tuks and the chirping of the birds. Sherman de Rose opens the door of a drop-in centre for the LGBT community in Colombo.

Sherman de Rose founded the first LGBTQ organization in Sri Lanka, Companions on a Journey, in 1995 and is considered the first gay man who publicly came out in Sri Lanka.  Raised in a Christian family in Colombo, he wanted to become a priest as a young man.

De Rose keeps in an album some newspaper clippings from a decades-long struggle. Companions on a Journey was created to fight for the decriminalization of homosexuality on the island. In addition, they organized meeting spaces for the community, a monthly magazine and a drag beauty contest, daring in the 90s and in the context of a criminalized country. He remembers that they received support but also insults and threats.

In 2012, the organization had to close.  They had been accused in media as a group of “promoting homosexuality”. De Rose remembers that police searched the office, and some activists were questioned for hours. He left the country for some years.

Manju, an activist, who works in the organization, explains that they offer several services for the community, “we have HIV testing, but we also offer an informal atmosphere where they can just come and talk safely, speak to each other, so it is a very friendly place.”  They also screen movies and borrow books. In the library an orange book stands out: “Funny Boy”, which is a famous novel about a gay boy in a Tamil family in Colombo who explore his identity during the civil war of the country.

As in other interviews, Manju explains that he suffered a lot of pressure from his family, particularly his elder brother, who wanted to force him to marry a woman.

KIRUTHIKA

“There are anal and vaginal tests, which are a kind of harassment”

Kiruthika, 37, as a Hindu and Tamil woman, the largest minority in Sri Lanka, and a lesbian, describes herself “as a kind of minority within a minority.” We met after work. She shows a rose tattoo on her arm.

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KIRUTHIKA: “There are anal and vaginal tests, which are a kind of harassment”

Kiruthika, 37, as a Hindu and Tamil woman, the largest minority in Sri Lanka, and a lesbian, describes herself “as a kind of minority within a minority.” We met after work. She shows a rose tattoo on her arm.

Kiruthika came out as a gay woman when she was 14, “but at that time I did not know the words: LGBTIQ+, lesbian, gay or homosexuality.” She was attracted to her English teacher, she was a bit confused and went very innocently to tell it to her parents.

Few years have passed since her coming out and, “my mother came to me a day and threatened me, saying that she was going to commit suicide if I did not change.” However, she felt lucky because having grown up in the city and within an educated family was easier.

However, something recently happened that she never thought could happen to her. As a human rights worker, she tried to help a young girl who had just come out as a lesbian and had come through domestic violence. She hosted that young lady into her house for a few days, and the girl’s parents called the police. “My lawyers told me to be careful.” Human Rights Watch has reported forced anal and vaginal exams in LGBTIQ+ prosecutions in Sri Lanka.

AZAD

“If we were an open society, we could have saved that boy”

“In the last few years, so many gay people have died in Sri Lanka, they can’t handle the pressure, the pressure of life, the pressure of the society against the culture, so many, young people,” says Azad Moulana, 45, while drinking a tea in a café in Colombo.

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AZAD: “If we were an open society, we could have saved that boy”

“In the last few years, so many gay people have died in Sri Lanka, they can’t handle the pressure, the pressure of life, the pressure of the society against the culture, so many, young people,” says Azad Moulana, 45, while drinking a tea in a café in Colombo.

Azad is a Sri Lankan Muslim man working in the creative industry. He explains that recently a friend told him about a young gay man, “apparently he was a really nice guy, there was nothing wrong and one day, just before going to work, he hanged himself and he has died.” “But if it was an open society, we could have helped that boy,” he adds.

He says there are a lot of gay people in Sri Lanka, suffocated by society, in sham marriages or who just can’t handle the pressure. Azad feels lucky because his family always supported him. He came out to his father when he was 21: “It was a small bonus because my father is a doctor,” he adds. “I felt he needed to tell it.” In his opinion, the conversation “was ok, but the acceptance only happened later on.”

We met Azad’s father, Dr Aleem Moulana, in Colombo on a warm afternoon in his house. He is sitting in a wicker chair next to a shelf full of books on medicine, history, religion, and a family portrait. There is a yellow rosary on the table. He is a medical doctor, a grandfather and a Muslim, “very religious but not fanatical,” he puts it.

“To be frank, at that time, when my son, my only son, suddenly said something like this, it came to me as a surprise, a shock, but not sadness,” he remembers. “My wife was not so concerned either, she said this is his destiny, so we are going to take the cooperation with him, that’s all, we can fight with him.” “But as far as our community concern, the Muslim community, it is a little difficult because not all the parents are like us, they have a lot of restrictions,” he continues.

Dr Moulana believes those moral standards that did not correspond to their culture were imposed on the island during the British rule: “Actually, before European came, this country was very natural, everything was so broad-minded. Not only here but even in India, and after the British came, they restricted everything, they did everything legal and illegal,” he adds.

He thinks it is time for religious groups, politicians, organizations, and the LGBTIQ+ community to “sit and talk.”

KHAUSALIA

“The first need is to decriminalize it”

“My concern is not about the law, it is about the stigma”, says  Khausalia, a researcher and queer Srilankan woman. She says that her close friends know about her, but she did not come out as a queer person at the office or with her family members.

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KHAUSALIA “The first need is to decriminalize it”

“My concern is not about the law, it is about the stigma”, says  Khausalia, a researcher and queer Srilankan woman. She says that her close friends know about her, but she did not come out as a queer person at the office or with her family members.

She thinks that religions play a very important role in moral norms in the country: “Buddhism plays a hegemonic role and controls ideas of the public, and doesn’t mean the philosophy of Buddhism but the monks and its hierarchical system.” “They control everything, for example, there was an attempt to introduce sex education to grade seven students, and then one monk came and said: no.”

However, she thinks it is still more difficult for gay men than lesbian or queer women: “In Sri Lanka, sharing rooms with women is common, holding hands, however for men, just touching a hand… and there are a lot of derogatory words used, such as “samanalaya” (butterfly), they are used to men rather than women.”

She thinks that the first need is to decriminalize it, which will change the other things, “but I don’t know how long it will take. Even in some other countries where it is not criminalized, the stigma is still there.”

JOSH

“I wanted to be Batman”

In October 2017, Josh had suicidal thoughts and called his brother. Some weeks before, he had checked his “parent mindset asking them if it was a sin to be a trans person”. “Because my mother is very religious and my family is very conservative,” he explains.

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JOSH: “I wanted to be Batman”

In October 2017, Josh had suicidal thoughts and called his brother. Some weeks before, he had checked his “parent mindset asking them if it was a sin to be a trans person”. “Because my mother is very religious and my family is very conservative,” he explains.

Then he called his brother:

–“I am calling to tell you that I am not the person you think. I am a man”, Josh said on the phone.
–“What are you saying?” his brother replied.
–“I am saying that I am a man, I am not the person you think, and I have these suicidal thoughts. I want to do something.”

Josh switched off, and after some minutes, he had five calls from her mom. “Initially, she did not understand it, but she always supported me,” Josh remembers in a café in Colombo.

In a world where everything needs a name, Josh is a 33-year-old Christian Tamil man, a non-cisnormative man who does activism for transgender people rights and has recently become the first trans lawyer in Sri Lanka.

Josh explains that in his childhood, as he only had two brothers, he had no problem with his clothes because he wore what they had, and they were dressed similarly.

The first incident Josh remembers causing him pain was when he was five years old and was playing Batman. “My brother wanted to be Batman, and I wanted to be Batman too, but he said that I had to be Batwoman, and I didn’t want to.”

He also had difficulties at school because he studied in a Colombo girls-only school: “I always thought I had been put in the wrong place.” “I was always angry, with a very strong temper. Always alone. Much later, I understood why.”

After studying three years in London, “where I had a terrible time and attempted to take my own life,” he returned to Sri Lanka and searched for a word on Youtube – “transformation.”

A student from the college in London was the first person to talk to him about trans people.

“I had seen transsexuals before but never thought it was me.” “I didn’t dare to write the word ‘transgender’ or ‘trans’ on the Internet, I was ashamed, so I wrote ‘transformation’, he explains.

He still remembers the video that helped him begin to understand each other. It was called “My Turner”, and in it a young Canadian told his story.

After fighting many personal and social battles and surviving several suicide attempts, Josh became a lawyer. What about the future?

Josh believes that the next step to fight stigma is education: “In Sri Lanka, we don’t have proper sexual education.” He mentions the rural areas, where few people know about these laws, but there is a lot of stigma. “Education is the starting point, then we can start to talk about the legal changes,” he concludes.

In Uganda, “we are subject to blackmail, to media outing and all forms of violence”

In Uganda, loving can be very dangerous. The country is labelled as one of the worst places to be LGBT in the world. In 2011, David Kato, a teacher and the father of Ugandan LGBT activism, was killed at his home in Kampala after helping to send to the court a local newspaper that had published at front-page the name, pictures and address of 100 gay people together with the banner: “Hang Them.”

As in other states across the world, colonialism left a print difficult to erase. The territory of today’s Uganda, that once was not a country but a series of different kingdoms and communities, became a British protectorate  in 1894. Thus, as in most of the Commonwealth, the laws on ‘unnatural offences’ were introduced. The Uganda Penal Code criminalised same-sex sexual relations under the section 145, 146 and 148 in 1950 based on the section 377 of the Indian Penal Code of 1860. After independence, the law, and homophobia and stigma survived.

 In 2014, Ugandan legislators passed a bill that attempted to introduce the death penalty for LGBT people but soon was annulled thanks to the work of some organisations. However, mobs and lynching followed it.

Ugandan Photographer Kwagala DeLovie has captured the feelings and dreams of four Ugandans amidst the Section 145.

GLORIA

“It is very disappointing seeing how much of the colonial imprint still exists, and it does not make any sense to keep it,” says Gloria.

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GLORIA

“It is very disappointing seeing how much of the colonial imprint still exists, and it does not make any sense to keep it,” says Gloria.

Gloria Kiconco is a queer poet, essayist, and zine-maker based in Kampala, Uganda. Her poetry has been published on various online platforms and featured in the anthologies 20.35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry; Dear Nev: An Anthology of East African Writers; and Wondering and Wandering of Hearts.

Gloria’s work questions ideas of identity, belonging, and authenticity. Through poetry and zine making, she is currently exploring queerness in form, both written and physical. She also organises and facilitates zine workshops for LGBTIQ+ people, multimedia artists, and those who benefit from it as a mental health practice.

SEVERUS

SEVERUS

Severus explains that the section 145 of the Ugandan Penal Code Act is quite similar to the 377 section of the Indian Penal Code on “unnatural offences” that was introduced by the British in 1860 and has been used for over a century to normalize several injustices against LGBTI people and the hostile rhetoric around them.

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SEVERUS

Severus explains that the section 145 of the Ugandan Penal Code Act is quite similar to the 377 section of the Indian Penal Code on “unnatural offences” that was introduced by the British in 1860 and has been used for over a century to normalize several injustices against LGBTI people and the hostile rhetoric around them.

Owamparo Severus is a psychologist and Director of The Taala Foundation.  His work over the past seven years has focused on access to mental health care and the promotion of the right to health, well-being, and dignity for sexual and gender minorities in Uganda and Africa broadly.

He is a trans man, scholar and published author. More recently, his interests have piqued around research into eco-functional systemic development, technology and human optimisation.

When not consumed by the flames of his passions, he enjoys teas, delicious healthy cuisine, the arts, exploration, spending quality time with his partner and being a proud guardian of their dog Suubi.

GERALD

GERALD

“I learned early that there was a particularity about me and how people reacted to me, either aggressively or violently,” Gerald says, who explains that learning about the history in Uganda under sections 145 , 146 and 148 of the Penal Code and learning about the colonialism behind it and learning the history about the tribe Gerald belongs, was able to see their place here.” “That I am legitimate and these laws are dangerous and destroying lives.”

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GERALD

“I learned early that there was a particularity about me and how people reacted to me, either aggressively or violently,” Gerald says, who explains that learning about the history in Uganda under sections 145 , 146 and 148 of the Penal Code and learning about the colonialism behind it and learning the history about the tribe Gerald belongs, was able to see their place here.” “That I am legitimate and these laws are dangerous and destroying lives.”

Gerald is a queer, non-binary, socialist, femme queen living in Kampala, Uganda. They are a performance artist, events and cultural producer, model and fixer. Their artistic expression and work are centred around the intersection of queer living in Uganda. They are also an avid reader and gluttonous consumer of queer meme culture… the only one worth consuming.

AMANDA

AMANDA

As a transgender person in Uganda, Amanda explains that they are “subject to blackmail, media outing and all forms of violence.” In 2017, her family found her sexual identity as a transgender person, and she was sent to a prison facility and submitted to police brutality – since then, she is afraid.

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AMANDA

As a transgender person in Uganda, Amanda explains that they are “subject to blackmail, media outing and all forms of violence.” In 2017, her family found her sexual identity as a transgender person, and she was sent to a prison facility and submitted to police brutality – since then, she is afraid.

Kamanda Bosco (alias Amanda) is a transgender activist and human rights defender advocating for gender, LGBTIQ+ rights, sexual and reproductive health rights. Working in these areas, she reaches out to grassroots communities, particularly critical young populations, through the African Queer Youth Initiative. Kamanda is the co-chair of inclusion and diversity with the Society of Gender Professionals.

Kamanda is currently finishing an undergraduate degree in Business administration and working at Transgender Equality Uganda as a programs assistant. Kamanda is a civic graduate of the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) and part of the Commonwealth Youth council on a special interest group committee. Kamanda has also worked with the youth coalition for sexual and reproductive Rights and Lancet standing commission on adolescent health and well-being.

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