UGANDA KEY POPULATIONS AT THE PAN AFRICAN ILGA CONFERENCE 2023
When you have a team leader and an organisation whose ethos is about enabling the community it serves, you expect almost everything that is done in the organisation to be about community. This all sits well within the vision of the Uganda Key Populations Consortium, which is to effectively coordinate and secure full social, political and economic inclusion in society for key populations.
The term community is described as “groups of people that may or may not be spatially connected, but who share common interests, concerns or identities,” and “these communities could be local, national, or international, with specific or broad interests”.
The Uganda Key Populations Consortium (UKPC) represents, brings together, coordinates, spearheads, mobilises, unites, link, empowers, animates, and resources, key population organisations and networks in Uganda. This was the role that it played, and I must add, quite excellently, when it hit the streets to find resources to ensure the participation of the Community of Action (CoA) under the Free To be Me Programme, one of its flagship programmes, in the 6th Pan African ILGA Conference that took place in Mauritius in the months of July and August.
On 30th July 2023, with support of the Free To Be Me Programme, UKPC officially facilitated twelve individuals from nine CoA organisations to attend the 6th Pan African ILGA Conference in Terre Rouge, Balaclava, Mauritius under the theme Pride and Resilience. This was a grand opportunity to participate in one of Africa’s two most prestigious key population conferences, the other being the Changing Faces Changing Spaces conference. The conference brought together key population participants, academics, and donors from Africa as well as from the diaspora. Pan African ILGA, the conference host and organiser also facilitated the participation of four more CoA members to participate, bringing the total of CoA participants to thirteen.
During the Pan African ILGA Conference, the Uganda CoA had the opportunity to meet other to meet other CoAs from the rest of the Free To Be Me countries in Africa among them Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, Kenya and Mozambique, as well as the Free To Be Me Programme Alliance Partners among them Positive Vibes, Work Place Pride, Global Interfaith Network, and ILGA World. The regional Hivos teams were also there to interact with all the CoAs. They included the Regional Director for East Africa, the Global Programme Manager, Deputy Global Programme Manager, and other very important staff who make all the granting assistance to our CoAs possible. This was an opportunity to interact informally and for people to attach faces to emails that have been flying between and among people for the last two years! This was the place to meet, greet, eat, drink and make merry, but also the opportunity to listen to share experiences with one another as partners and Communities of Action. Consequently, there was a meet and greet cocktail at the start of the conference week, and a dinner party on the last day of the conference that was exclusively for CoA members and alliance partners.
Did I mention that UKPC’s role is also to link its members to resources and create spaces at tables where they can freely, independently, and even discreetly access resources or even just start up those important conversations? Oh, yes! The CoA talked to government representatives, funders, regional networks, and even got to hear from the Chair of the Mauritian Human Rights Commission and interact with the outgoing United Nations Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, Victor Madrigal-Borloz!
UKPC as part of the CoA and programme host organisation for Uganda, was specially recognised by the Hivos team as an exceptional host organisation and CoA leader that has worked tirelessly amidst the challenging legal landscape of the newly enacted Anti-homosexuality Act 2023, to serve the key populations community and their organisations diligently. UKPC was also part of a consortium that organised the first ever youth pre-conference at the Pan African ILGA conferences past and present. This was organised in partnership with CHEVS and GALCK+. A positive outcome of this pre-conference was an African Queer Youth Manifesto, a youth resolution from the conference that calls for among others meaningful youth engagement, and recommendations for donors and convenors and organisers of spaces of engagement that need to ensure meaningful youth participation. Additionally, UKPC was part of another coalition that presented their work at the conference – a piece of excellent ground-breaking work around the use of social listening tools to capture public discourse trends to inform themes and actors in resisting dominant anti-gender narratives as well as informing choices for effective narrative change interventions. In this work, UKPC collaborated with Singizi and the East African Coalition. This work is very interesting and useful. Please get in touch with the team at UKPC or with any of the coalition partners to engage more on it!
But the Pan Africa ILGA Conference was not only about serious business. The CoAs also turned into tourists and water glided, zip-lined, and go-carted. There was even Pride Afrique to attend! The CoA was spoilt for choice. Uganda Pride did us proud by partnering with the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria to give us the ever first interpersonal African Pride event!
Thank you Free To Be Programme for the opportunity. Till next time.