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Pepe Julian Onziema

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Pepe Julian Onziema
Born (1980-11-30) November 30, 1980 (age 39)[1]

Pepe Julian Onziema (born November 30, 1980) is a Ugandan LGBT rights activist.[2] In 2012, he was named a Global Citizen by the Clinton Global Initiative for his work in human rights advocacy.[3] He began his human rights work in 2003,[4] which has twice led to his arrest.[5] He has since participated in organizing gay pride celebrations in Uganda.[6]

In 2012 he was invited on the Ugandan television show Morning Breeze to join a debate about sexual minorities and their situation in Uganda. However the interview turned into a wild dispute when suddenly Martin Ssempa stormed into the show trying to discredit Onziema, waving fruits and vegetables while shouting in both English and Luganda over the moderator.[7][8] The interview itself was uploaded to the internet and sparked internet memes.[9]

In 2013, he was shortlisted for the David Kato Vision and Voice Award, an award in honour of his slain friend and colleague, and fellow advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda, David Kato.[10]

In 2014, he was interviewed by John Oliver on the American television series Last Week Tonight about the human rights situation for LGBT people in Uganda.[11] Stonewall selected Onziema as Hero of the Year in 2014.[12]

Personal life

Onziema initially identified as lesbian,[13] and now lives as a trans man.[14] He lives in Kampala.[13]

See also


  1. ^ "Pepe Julian Onziema". Retrieved 2020-01-10.
  2. ^ When Elephants Fight, the Grass Suffers: Interview with Gay Rights Activist Pepe Julian Onziema, by Daniella Zalcman, at the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting; published April 14, 2014; retrieved July 3, 2014
  3. ^ 2012 Clinton Global Citizen Awards Archived 2015-09-23 at the Wayback Machine, at the Clinton Global Initiative; published 2012; retrieved July 3, 2014
  4. ^ LGBTI - making love a crime, at Amnesty International USA; published June 25, 2013; retrieved July 3, 2014
  5. ^ Interview with civil society activist: Pepe Julian Onziemam, at; published May 1, 2011; retrieved July 3, 2014
  6. ^ Why Gay Pride Celebrations In Uganda Were Discreet, by Gregory Warner, at WBUR-FM/National Public Radio; published August 5, 2013; retrieved July 3, 2014
  7. ^ Busey, Kelli (2012-12-20). "Ugandan TransMan Pepe Onziema Calls Out Hatefull Pastor". Planet Transgender. Retrieved 2019-02-08.
  8. ^ Swalz, MORNING BREEZE HOMOSEXUALITY DEBATE 18th DEC NBS TV, retrieved 2019-02-08
  9. ^ "Why Are You Gay?". Know Your Meme. Retrieved 2019-12-24.
  10. ^ 2013 Short List Archived 2014-10-24 at the Wayback Machine, at Vision And Voice Award; retrieved March 16, 2016
  11. ^ "WATCH: John Oliver Brilliantly Exposes the U.S.-U.K. Influence on Uganda's Antigay Law". The Advocate, June 30, 2014.
  12. ^ Stonewall’s heroine of the year award goes to Pepe Julian Onziema, by Alexandra Topping, at the Guardian, by Alexandra Topping; published November 7, 2014; retrieved November 11, 2014
  13. ^ a b Being Gay in Uganda: One Couple's Story, by Glenna Gordon, at Time; published March 8, 2010; retrieved July 3, 2014
  14. ^ Living proudly in face of Uganda's anti-gay bill, by Pepe Julien Onziema, at; published January 25, 2013; retrieved July 3, 2014