Not Enough Sun in the World

While Musana* and her girlfriend were soaking up the sun on a romantic beach holiday in Kenya, their friends reached out with some tough news from back home in Uganda. One of the messages felt the most chilling to read: “We’re all illegal now.”

“All this stuff I’ve been doing is now like evidence against me. My entire life is evidence against me. Everybody knows. People are obligated by law to report me.” – Musana

On May 26, 2023, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act, creating one of the world’s harshest anti-LGBTQ+ laws. The law makes it illegal for consensual same-sex conduct, with penalties of up to life imprisonment, ten years in prison, and the death penalty.

“Basically, [the law] makes it so that you cannot be alive. You cannot rent. You cannot get health care. You cannot exist.”
– Musana 

Despite the risk to her safety, Musana wanted people to hear what it’s like to live in a country where it’s no longer safe to be in love.

In the podcast episode, Musana is interviewed by her friend John*, an LGBTQ+ reporter who responded to Radio Workshop’s call for LGBTQ+ stories. John said he wanted to produce a story about how “home is not a physical space, but rather an ongoing journey to find acceptance and safety.”

This is the first of a two-part series on LGBTQ+ rights in Uganda.

Radio Workshop’s editor Lesedi Mogoatlhe says the episode “brings us close to Musana and the LGBTQ+ community in Uganda in a way that helps us understand what she’s experiencing. It allows us to relate intimately to her story because what’s happening in Uganda concerns all of us.”

Since the early 2000s, right-wing American evangelicals have sent millions in US dollars to Africa to bolster anti-homosexuality laws – $20 million to Uganda alone, according to Open Democracy. Musana and other queer Ugandans have come to bear the weight of that growing pressure.

“I’ve reached a point where I can barely say the words like LGBTQ anymore because it just brings me so much pain, and it’s just associated with suffering.”- Musana

Homosexuality is illegal in over 30 African countries. It is punishable by death in some, including Nigeria and Mauritania. In February of this year, Ghana’s parliament passed new legislation to restrict LGBTQ+ rights severely.

Across the continent, queerness is seen as “un-African,” but long before European colonization, homosexuality was part of many African cultures. Today, the experts say hate is being exported to Africa.

“There’s not enough sun in the world. The world is dark. The world hates you. The world wants to come for you… and they have the law on their side. Who are you in the face of that?” – Musana 

This story wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Outright International, Clare Byarugaba, Stephen Henderickson, Luminate, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Other Foundation, and the Media Development Investment Fund.

Listen to Not Enough Sun on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

To find out more about Radio Workshop, you can visit our website radioworkshop.org or find us on our social media channels. Instagram @radioworkshop, and Radio Workshop on Facebook and LinkedIn.

* Their names have been changed to protect their identities.