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Pepe Julian Onziema

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Pepe Julian Onziema
Born (1980-11-30) November 30, 1980 (age 40)[1]
OccupationProgram Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda

Pepe Julian Onziema (born November 30, 1980) is a Ugandan LGBT rights and human 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 hosted by Simon Kaggwa Njala, to join a debate about sexual minorities and their situation in Uganda. The interview later turned into a wild dispute when pastor and anti-gay activist Martin Ssempa came into the show trying to discredit Onziema, with fruits and vegetables, while shouting in both English and Luganda over the moderator.[7][8] The interview itself was uploaded to the internet and became the subject of various internet memes.[9] In 2013, Pepe was shortlisted for the David Kato Vision and Voice Award, an award in honour of his murdered 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 10 November 2020.
  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