Pepe Julian Onziema is the Program Director at Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a network focused on monitoring, coordinating, and advocating for rights of the LGBTIQ community in Uganda. The organisation does this through challenging discriminatory and non-inclusive laws, and educating and increasing awareness on the status of human rights for individuals identifying as LGBTIQ in Uganda.
He is responsible for the coordination and administration of all programs, including the development, organisation, and implementation of campaigns, resource mobilization, solidarity initiatives, and advocacy work. As a longtime advocate for rights of LGBTIQ and an open trans-man, he is a feminist, counselor, paralegal and a community organiser who is personally connected to the population. He serves his community in Uganda, the East African region and beyond.
Pepe is a 2015 NED Reagan-Fascell Fellow, a 2017 Africans Rising Activists in Residence Fellow, and a 2018 Alumnus of the Columbia University Human Rights Advocacy Program. He is also the recipient of the 2012 Global Citizen Award from the Clinton Global Initiative, and the Hero of Year Award from Stonewall UK in 2014. In 2015, he received the GLAAD award for “Outstanding Talk-show Episode” for his appearance on the John Oliver Last Week Tonight.