“In a country plagued by poverty, seeds of hatred were easily planted as some institutions offered humanitarian aid while advancing anti-gay agendas. Within these circumstances, the resilience and innovation of the LGBTQI community in Uganda are striking, as they continue their quest for equality one day at a time.” -Jiro Ose
Photographer Jiro Ose explores the current status of LGBTQI rights in Uganda, documenting an intersection of recent contentious events in Ugandan politics: the November 2015 visit by Pope Francis, the fifth anniversary (January 2016) of David Kato’s murder, and the Ugandan general elections in February 2016. Based in Kampala, captures these scenes as well as the personal lives of members of the LGBTQI community, highlighting their courageous advocacy work in the face of growing homophobia.
“Fewer than 1 billion of the world’s population live in countries where same-sex marriage or civil unions are recognized, compared to almost 2.8 billion living in countries which criminalize gay people and impose severe punishments on homosexuality, such as imprisonment, lashings and even death sentences.” – Jessica Stern, Outright International
The rights of individuals to choose whom they love and how they see and express themselves are codified in the privacy and free speech tenants of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international treaties. However, the history of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI) communities in the United States and around the globe has long included severe violations of civil and political rights, as well as economic, social and cultural rights.
Decades of challenges to both judicial biases and social practices have in recent years culminated in significant changes. The 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that state-level bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional provided significant advancement in marriage equality. In 2016, Colombia followed suit. In Argentina, a groundbreaking gender identity law passed in 2012 provided essential protections for transgender people. And in Uganda, the 2014 Anti-Homosexuality Act was invalidated by the Constitutional Court after the swift response of the international community.
However, these gains are only milestones on the work yet to be done. Violence perpetrated against LGBTQI community members in Iraq, Syria and other areas of North Africa and the Middle East is made more devastating by the impact of ongoing conflict that reduces options for support in already fragile situations. While Russia repealed its anti-homosexuality law in 1993, it did little to respond to public homophobia and increasingly frequent attacks against sexual minorities. Jamaica continues to uphold laws criminalizing homosexuality, as do many other countries around the world. In the U.S., the unraveling of the Supreme Court’s decision through the vast network of state laws will take decades of legal challenges on related rights. Protection for trans persons, both legally and culturally, remains highly fragile, as demonstrated by recent challenges to the right to self-identify gender in both Mississippi and North Carolina.
The journey to equality is taking place in both the courtrooms and living rooms of the world. There is much distance left to cover.
625 at 625: NOT/STILL: Visit from GirlForward
May 27, 2016 | 625 N. Kingsbury St., Chicago
625 at 625: NOT/STILL: Visit from Rainbow Chicago
May 23, 2016 | 625 N. Kingsbury St., Chicago
625 at 625: NOT/STILL: Visit from Global Girl Media
May 11, 2016 | 625 N. Kingsbury St., Chicago
In partnership with Global Girl Media After School Matters program
625 at 625: NOT/STILL: Visit from Alianza Heartland
May 11, 2016 | 625 N. Kingsbury St., Chicago
625 at 625: NOT/STILL: The Fight for Human Rights by Uganda’s LGBTQI Community
April 14, 2016 | 625 N. Kingsbury St., Chicago
In partnership with Heartland Alliance
April 7 – May 28, 2016
AWP Studio Gallery
625 N. Kingsbury
Born in Osaka, Japan, Jiro Ose has worked as a photojournalist at several daily newspapers before turning freelance in 2005. He has covered various events world wide such as the historical election in Congo, Sudanese refugee crisis, departure of deposed president Jean-Betrand Aristide in Haiti, Iraq War and others. After spending nearly three years in Central Africa, three years in Beirut, Lebanon, and four years in Ethiopia, Ose has recently relocated to Kampala, Uganda. He was awarded the Award of Excellence in the Magazine General News Story category of the Pictures of the Year International competition for his coverage of DR Congo election.