JOINT COMMUNICATION ON STRATEGIC RESPONSE TO CHALLENGES AFFECTING KEY POPULATION IN UGANDA -KAMPALA

2nd September 2022

1. Introduction and Background

On 31st August 2022, 35 organisations of LGBT persons/Key Populations met to discuss ways of jointly responding to raids, attacks and persecution of organisations working on LGBT/key populations issues which have intensified since July 2022. These attacks follow the attack on the offices of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and the resultant criminal prosecution of two of SMUG’s staff and the eventual halting of the activities of SMUG by the NGO Bureau. These attacks take the form of office raids, negative media campaigns, direct threats against leaders and organisations, raiding of offices of organisations and crisis shelters and the fueling of a moral panic based on allegations of ‘recruitment of children’ into homosexuality, as well as threats to reintroduce laws such as the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. These acts have caused panic among key populations, and unfortunately, thus far, the response has been largely disjointed. As such, the community has felt the need for a coordinated joint response.

2. Resolutions

The representatives from the different LGBT/ KP communities resolved that the following should be done with immediate effect as a way of jointly coordinating the response to the current threats:

i. Ensure compliance to laws: All organisations are to be assisted to adhere to the operational requirements by the NGO Bureau and Uganda registrations Services Bureau (URSB) to avoid having their activities halted for non-compliance. Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) was tasked to systematically assess compliance gaps and assist organisations to comply.

ii. Legal response to attacks: HRAPF is to be the focal point for providing legal support for organisations that are threatened. The ongoing legal responses to attacks that have happened before are to continue, and each organisation is free to engage legal support from partners or private legal teams. However, since attacks on individuals and organisations affect the whole community, incidents have to be communicated to the others so that joint responses can be planned as the need arises.

iii. Security assessments and trainings: Defenders Protection Initiative (DPI) is to take lead on assessing security preparedness for different organisations and assisting organisations to develop security plans and strengthen their physical and digital security systems. Ifreedom will help with digital security.

iv. Security support: In case of attacks or violence against individuals/organisations, security support is to be sought from DefendDefenders, the National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders and other partners working on HRD security. Mechanisms to support those who do not qualify as human rights defenders should continue though the REACT network and HRAPF in cases where legal support is also needed. The Security Working Group is also to be notified of all cases and developments in order to ensure coordinated response.

v. Resource mobilisation: An assessment of the available resources for immediate support to LGBT/KP organisations is to be made by the UKPC and shared with those in need of support. UKPC is to also mobilise resources to assist member organisations in urgent need of support. LGBT/KP organisations are encouraged to fundraise for their needs through their usual channels. It is understood that individual organisations and partners implementing actions under this joint response are to use their own resources or fundraise for their needs through their usual channels.

vi. Communications: All organisations shall report developments to other LGBT/KP organisations and service providers through a dedicated listserv that will be set up for this purpose. Joint communications on emerging issues and needs affecting all the different groups shall be made by the Taskforce established during this meeting to partners. However, individual organisations retain the right to communicate their own needs or developments to their constituents and partners as they see fit.

vii. Strategic engagements of partners: UKPC and the REACT network are to coordinate joint strategic engagement of allies and partners within key sectors and ensure that LGBT/KP organisations are involved.

viii. Media engagements: KT is to coordinate the dissemination of stories countering the misleading information and distortions that have been spread about LGBT/KP organisations and individuals through the various media.

ix. Coordination of the joint response: The joint response is to be coordinated by a Taskforce of 12 organisations which include the networks of LGBT persons and KPs as well as key partners on legal and security response.

The members are: the REACT network, UKPC, UNESO, TNU, FARUG, WERO, UMSC, DefendDefenders, DPI, KT and HRAPF. Organisations tasked with roles are to report to the Taskforce and to all organisations. The Taskforce is to meet every week and make decisions based on emerging situations and communicate needs. The Taskforce shall report to a monthly convening of LGBT/KP organisations and it will share updates and listen to emerging developments from the organisations. UKPC and HRAPF shall co-host the Taskforce meetings and the monthly meetings.

3. Timelines

The above measures are to remain in place for the next six months starting 1st September 2022.

For further details please contact:

1. Dr. Frank Mugisha, frankmugisha@gmail.com

2. Richard Lusimbo, Coordinator Uganda Key Populations Consortium (UKPC), coordinator@ugandakpc.org

3. Dr. Adrian Jjuuko, Executive Director, Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF), ajjuuko@hrapf.org