Human rights defender

Sean

ThemeHuman Rights LawyerThemeLGBTI RightsCountryUganda

Sean is the Executive Director of The Robust Initiative for Promoting Human Rights-Triumph Uganda. Triumph Uganda is a human rights organization that focuses on protecting and advocating human rights of marginalized communities, including LGBTIQ+ communities. The organization is located in Mbale town, Eastern Uganda. As Executive Director, Sean is responsible for steering the organisation’s activities, including programme coordination and liaison with donors, partners, beneficiaries and other community members. Alongside his work as Executive Director, Sean is also heading the Legal Aid Services Division of the organization, representing LGBTIQ+ clients in courts of law, strategic litigation and actively advocating for their rights online and offline.

About Sean

Human rights violations in Uganda

Same-sex relations have been criminalized in Uganda since British colonial times but more recent anti-gay legislation further stripped away rights of the LGBTIQ+ community. In early 2014, President Museveni signed the so-called “Anti-Homosexuality Act” into law, which foresaw imposition of the death penalty for same-sex relations [1] before it was shortly annulled by the country’s constitutional court on technicalities. The bill proposed a life sentence for engaging in “homosexual activity” and the death sentence for “aggravated homosexuality”. It also imposed a sentence of seven years in prison for anyone providing protection or assistance to LGBTI individuals and whereas that particular bill is no longer law, the implications rage on as witnessed by the arbitrary arrests and acts of torture meted on LGBTI persons in Uganda. Perpetrators continue to rely on the ancient anti- LGBT laws of 1950s maintained in the country’s ‘penal Code Act CAP 120, which is the main punitive law threatening the valuable work of human rights activists and organisations operating in Uganda [2].

Threats and challenges

Sean’s organization, Triumph Uganda, faces many difficulties because of the work they do protecting the human rights of marginalized groups, including LGBTIQ+ members. In 2019, there were two attempts at burglary at their office. Besides these burglaries, Triumph Uganda has also has been evicted from their previous office location because of allegations of promoting homosexuality. Additionally, various employees of Triumph Uganda have faced personal threats because of their sexual orientation.

More recently, regulations and restrictions imposed in Uganda due the situation around Covid-19, have led to further repression of LGBTI individuals and civil society more generally. Due to these developments, Sean experiences a lot of stress and needs a period of rest.”

[1] https://outrightinternational.org/region/uganda

[2] https://www.hrw.org/news/2014/05/14/uganda-anti-homosexuality-acts-heavy-toll

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