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Shaheen & Bari, 2022
Photo Credit: Suleika Muller

Buy a photo to support Uganda’s persecuted LGBTQ+ community

Clifford Prince King and Luca Khouri are among the photographers contributing work to MQBMBQ’s print sale, which provides financial aid to those affected by the country’s brutal new anti–LGBTQ+ laws

An emergency print sale featuring work by acclaimed image-makers was launched yesterday in response to Uganda’s new anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, which imposes the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”. 

Initiated by MQBMBQ – an ongoing digital project exploring Black queer identity – Project Uganda will last for one month, and features prints from the likes of Ramie Ahmeds, Avion Pearce and Raphael Chatelain. 

MQBMBQ founder Jordan Anderson began the project as a way to champion the narratives and visuals of BIPOC LGTBQ+ people. In partnership #hashtagwhatnext, a resources and fundraising group founded by DeLovie Kwagala (Papa De), they are working to bring attention to this “barbaric, senseless, oppressive and inhumane bill that criminalises many people’s existence”. MQBMBQ and #hashtagwhatnext aim to protect those detained, seeking refuge, or in need of medical assistance as a result of this legislation. So far, #hashtagwhatnext has raised £31,000, which has apparently been able to support around 100 people impacted by this bill.

Being Uganda’s first openly non–binary human rights activist, DeLovie Kwagala, via #hashtagwhatnext, is eager to share information on the new bill. “[There is] discrimination in hospitals, [criminalisation of] landlords that rent to us, the flaunting and parading bruised queer bodies in chains after mob raids, corrective rape cases, and many many deaths”, they say. They also invite young people to “engage and hold hard conversations about the realities of queer living outside their bubbles, circles and borders”.

“Being Black and queer is a death sentence,” they add. “You’re haunted for being Black, and hunted for being queer.“

Uganda’s Anti–Homosexuality Bill was initially introduced on February 28 this year, but on March 9 was referred to the Committee of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. According to a government report, concerns had been raised after the media had been “awash with reports of sodomy and lesbianism in Ugandan schools”, and the apparent “grooming and recruitment of school children into homosexuality”, suggesting queerness to be this newly pushed ideal that somehow goes against Uganda’s cultural norms.

On May 2, the bill was then pushed through a second time. 

While still to be signed, the sentiment of hate surrounding this bill is already impacting many of Uganda’s LGBTQ+ community, who have reportedly been thrown out of houses, fired from jobs, and given no financial or physical access to their hormones. 

This bill is not just an attack on queerness, but an attack on what it truly means to be African. The long-standing legacy of colonialism within Africa has erased the presence of queerness within its history, and has fueled a belief that depicts African–ness and Queerness as diametrically opposed. This a sentiment that Kwagala beautifully expresses, reiterating that “queer people... deserve all rights to fully and truly be. We will not be discarded nor will we let fear silence us, because it all starts with bills and laws like this.”

All profits from Project Uganda are donated to #hastagwhatnext. Visit the MQBMBQ website to take a look at the extraordinary prints available.