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What does Equality Mean to Us?

Article 21 - Constitution of Uganda

The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda provides for equality and non-discrimination for each and every Ugandan. But for some Ugandans, particularly those that identify as Lesbian,Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI)-this concept remains a mirage. Unequal protection and persecution against this minority community is pervasive and is caused by deeply rooted homophobic and transphobic attitudes. These factors expose many LGBTI persons in Uganda to discrimination in the education system, labor market, justice system, at health centers and other social services. This inequality further extends to unfair treatment or mistreatment within their family units and constant exposure to physical and emotional abuse including sexual assault, torture, and other forms of harassment.
Despite these difficulties, the Ugandan LGBTI community is known for her resilience, pride and tenacity. 

During Uganda’s Annual Gay Pride Parade on 9th August 2015, Clare Byarugaba, the Equality and Non Discriminaiton program Coordinator at Chapter Four Uganda went on a fact-finding mission to understand what 'Equality' Means to the LGBTI community in Uganda. While interacting with the attendees who included members of the LGBTI community, Sex workers and allies- we discovered that there was a basic understanding of the principles of Human Rights among the community members. They however conteded that this knowledge did not always protect them from violations. We emphasised the need to continue speaking out for their rights despite the risk involved. 
Exploring the concept of Equality and what it means in their respective local languages was quiet an experience, and after understanding the importance of ownership of these rights and the importance of making these rights visible-they wrote them down.

Their written interpretations are simple, but powerful. We were reminded of something we already knew,  something we all have in common as LGBT Ugandans, that is that we are not asking for too much- Simply that the rights already enshrined in the Ugandan Constitution are practically applied to us without discrimination. Ugandan Institutions and political leaders need to stop picking and choosing which human rights to protect. 

LGBTI rights are Human Rights and Ugandan LGBTI individuals are entitled to equal protection in all spheres of life. 

Photography by @Darlyne Komukama

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