lgbt uganda


LGBT History: Uganda King Mwanga II

King Mwanga II, who reigned from 1884 to 1888, was widely reported to have engaged in sexual relations with his male subjects. 

Researcher Ambrose Mukasa said: ‘It is documented that King Mwanga II had many young men in his palace and was sodomizing them at his will.

‘When missionaries introduced Christianity and some of the young men were baptized and taught about the dangers of homosexuality, they started denying Mwanga the usual “pleasure” he used to get from them.’

Mwanga reportedly became annoyed and went wild wondering how mere pages had started disobeying him. He clashed with the missionaries. He instructed the killing of all the young men who disobeyed him – with the executions taking place between 1885 and 1887. And the murdered young men were considered martyrs because they resolved to die for their new religion rather than surrendering their bodies to the king.

The word Bbaffe in Buganda kingdom means ‘our husband’. All subjects in Buganda under Mwanga, including men, were instructed to refer to king Mwaga as Bbaffe because to him, men were also his wives.

‘Even men referred to king Mwanga II as Bbaffe which means that he was free to sodomize any man he wanted after all he was the husband for all men and women,’ said an elder in Buganda, Siomon Mugere.

On April 1899, Mwanga was forced out of his kingdom and exiled by the British into the Seychelles Islands, where he was detained until his death.


A Documentary about love, hate and being transgender

The Pearl of Africa is a story about Cleopatra Kambugu, a 28 year old Ugandan transgender girl. Biologically born male, but against all odds, transitioning into the woman she knows she was born to be. Through an intimate fight for love in Uganda, one of the worlds most transphobic places. Once named The Pearl Of Africa by Winston Churchill, for it’s vast diversity in gender, flora and fauna. We get an insight into what it means to love as trans.


A Group of Ugandans Are Shattering Stigma with the Country’s First LGBT Zine

Every day for nearly a week straight at the start of last December, Vincent and a group of volunteers traveled to a friend’s printing shop in Kampala, Uganda right before it closed at 6:00 PM. They’d wait from a close distance as the last group of customers trickled out and disappeared down the street. Once clear, they’d file in. The shopkeeper would hand off the keys and leave. The shutters would be drawn, and for the next 12 hours they’d work to print thousands of copies of what is now one of the most important pieces of literature in Uganda’s LGBT history.

“The friend who runs that shop risked his business to help us,” said Vincent, who did not give his last name. “But it was important that we did it at night, because no one could see us. We didn’t want anything to happen.”

It’s called Bombastic magazine, and within its pages are dozens of stories from Uganda’s socially, legally, and often violently oppressed sexual minority communities. In one story, a woman recalls getting fired after concerns surfaced in her office that she might be a lesbian because she declined sexual advances from her boss. Shortly after the incident, she saw her name printed in an anti-gay tabloid. On another page, a transgender lesbian describes the onset of a deep depression when her body started to grow breasts.


Watch on

Call Me Kuchu

This documentary is both an inspiring tale of activist bravery and a requiem for a departed hero. Ugandan LGBT civil rights advocate David Kato was murdered in 2011, a fact that comes as a shock in Call Me Kuchu even if you know it going in. Directors Malika Zouhali-Worrall and Katherine Fairfax Wright have crafted a marvelous sense of life, a spirit of defiant optimism in the face of horrifying governmental and social oppression. It is also perhaps the best example of the recent surge of documentaries looking at LGBT rights around the world, alongside Born This WayAn Abominable CrimeMala Mala and others.


A Ugandan transgender girl fight for her right to love

The man behind this documentary, Jonny von Wallström, a self shooting director, human rights advocate and farmer from Sweden writes:

I first met Cleopatra Kambugu in June 2012 when I was introduced to her through friends. I was fascinated by her determination to be the first Ugandan transgender woman accepted for her true gender identity. Despite the hate and violent history in her country, she wanted to humanize trans people.

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