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Sexual Assault Awareness Month – A brief Research On The Realities of LGBTQ+ Ugandans.

As the world commemorates Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Kuchu Times Media Group carried out an informal research project aimed at shedding light on the often overlooked experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals in Uganda.

This brief report delves into the grim reality that many LGBTQ Ugandans face, where sexual assault is not only perpetrated under the guise of ‘correction’ of their sexual orientation, but also where reporting such cases can lead to further persecution due to societal stigma and the presence of discriminatory laws that hinder adequate legal recourse. Through qualitative research conducted during this month, our findings serve as a stark reminder of the urgent need for awareness, advocacy, and action to address the systemic challenges faced by LGBTQ+ communities in Uganda.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month serves as an annual reminder of the pervasive issue of sexual violence across the globe. However, within the context of Uganda, the experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals are often marginalized, overlooked and unrepresented. Kuchu Times Media Group, as is our mission to tell the lived realities of LGBTQ+ persons in Uganda and beyond, conducted a research study to explore the unique challenges faced by LGBTQ+ Ugandans during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

This research was conducted informally through conversations with members of the team. When we had over four conversations with different key informants to this research with sadly almost the same narrative, we took this on and broaden our scope. We ensured diverse representation across gender identities and sexual orientations. Due to the current legal climate, we participants opted to remain confidential for their safety.

Major Findings:
1. Sexual Assault under the Guise of ‘Correction’:

“My own uncle tried to ‘fix’ me by sexually assaulting me, thinking it would make me straight. It shattered my trust and left me scarred for life.” B.N

2. Fear of Reporting and Persecution:
LGBTQ+ individuals in Uganda face significant barriers when it comes to reporting cases of sexual assault. The draconian Anti Homosexuality Act, 2023 made an already discriminatory environment worse with victims being silenced and marginalized, fearing further persecution if they speak out. The lack of trust in law enforcement and the judiciary exacerbates these fears, as LGBTQ+ individuals are acutely aware of the potential repercussions of seeking justice within a system that discriminates against them.

“I was assaulted by someone in my community, but I didn’t dare report it. I knew that I would be the one to face consequences, not the perpetrator. It’s a terrifying reality we live with every day.” M.S

“Even if I wanted to seek justice, there’s no guarantee that I would find it. The law doesn’t protect people like me, so why would I risk further harm by speaking out?”

The major findings of our research emphasize the urgent need for action to address the intersecting challenges of sexual assault and LGBTQ+ rights in Uganda. As we reflect on Sexual Assault Awareness Month, it is imperative that we center the voices and experiences of marginalized communities, especially LGBTQ+ individuals who face disproportionate levels of violence and discrimination. Concrete steps must be taken to dismantle the systemic barriers that perpetuate cycles of abuse and impunity, including comprehensive legal reforms, community education initiatives, and the provision of accessible support services. Only by working together can we create a society where all individuals are free to live authentically and without fear of violence or persecution.