About 70 people attended a gay pride parade in Uganda, a country that last year tried to impose long jail terms for gay sex. The celebration was held at a secluded beach in Entebbe, on Lake Victoria just outside the capital Kampala. Although some of the revellers described the march as a triumph, they said their joy was tempered by the fact that society was still largely hostile to them and that attitudes were unlikely to change quickly. "Why do I have to celebrate it in an isolated place? Who am I showing that am proud, because we are celebrating to our own selves," activist Sandra Ntebi said.

Uganda gay pride
Members of the LGBT community take part in the pride parade in Entebbe, south-west of Uganda's capital KampalaEdward Echwalu/Reuters

Gays and lesbians in Uganda often live secretive lives, fearful that coming out will attract stigma and hostility from family and friends, or the loss of a job or an apartment. In 2014, Uganda attracted a storm of international condemnation after enacting one of the harshest anti-gay laws in Africa. A constitutional court later overturned the law because of legal technicalities. Despite threats by some lawmakers that the bill would be re-introduced in parliament, that has not happened and analysts say it would be unlikely to succeed in the face of strong pressure from Western donors.

Homosexuality is illegal in 37 African countries.

Uganda gay pride
Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community take part in a parade in EntebbeEdward Echwalu/Reuters
Uganda gay pride
A lesbian couple laugh during the gay pride celebrations in EntebbeEdward Echwalu/Reuters
Uganda gay pride
A gay couple chat on a beach before the gay pride parade in EntebbeEdward Echwalu/Reuters
Uganda gay pride
People wave Ugandan and rainbow flags during the parade in EntebbeIsaac Kasamani/AFP
Uganda gay pride
A Ugandan wearing a mask with a rainbow sticker takes part in the gay pride parade in EntebbeIsaac Kasamani/AFP
Uganda gay pride
People holding rainbow flags and umbrellas take part in the gay pride parade in EntebbeIsaac Kasamani/AFP

Photographer Edward Echwalu spent time with members of Uganda's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community during pride celebrations. He writes: "The people I met during this assignment were humble, energetic, honest, hardworking and full of life. Most were aged between 23 and 30.

"Shooting such an assignment was delicate. It was a challenge to put together a story that gives some context about the community and their day-to-day lives. I was limited to shooting in isolated areas and mostly inside to protect the people portrayed. Time and again I heard from people without jobs because they got fired once their sexuality was in the open. Most of those I met were rejected by their families and sent away. Others still live at home but are in hiding.

Uganda gay pride
A note containing security advice is taped on a door during a gay community gathering in KampalaEdward Echwalu/Reuters
Uganda gay pride
Rihana, who identifies as a trans-woman, poses for a picture outside her house in an undisclosed suburb of KampalaEdward Echwalu/Reuters
Uganda gay pride
Rihana perpares to showcase jewellery at the Mr and Miss Pride beauty contest at an undisclosed venue in KampalaEdward Echwalu/Reuters
Uganda gay pride
Ugandan Gay Pride organisers meet at an undisclosed restaurant in KampalaEdward Echwalu/Reuters
Uganda gay pride
The judges of the Mr and Miss Pride beauty contest take to the catwalk during rehearsals at an undisclosed venue in KampalaEdward Echwalu/Reuters
Uganda gay pride
Mr and Miss Pride beauty contestants watch one of the participants during rehearsals at an undisclosed venue in KampalaEdward Echwalu/Reuters
Uganda gay pride
Alicia, a participant in the Mr and Miss Pride beauty contest, strikes a pose after walking the runway during rehearsals for the contestEdward Echwalu/Reuters
Uganda gay pride
Participants in the Mr and Miss Pride beauty contest pose for a picture at an undisclosed venue in KampalaEdward Echwalu/Reuters
Uganda gay pride
A participant in the Mr and Miss Pride beauty contest is made up backstageEdward Echwalu/Reuters
Uganda gay pride
Mahad, who identifies as a trans-woman, is crowned after she was announced as the winner of the Miss Pride beauty contest at an undisclosed venue in Kampala, UgandaEdward Echwalu/Reuters
Uganda gay pride
Mahad smiles moments after being crowned as the winner of the Miss Pride beauty contestEdward Echwalu/Reuters

"The solidarity among the LGBT community in Uganda is very strong. Many of those I met are searching to affirm their identity and looking for people they can identify with. Members of the LGBT community in Uganda generally live and hang out together. 'Bad Black', who was born male but prefers to be identified as a trans-woman, stood out for me. Despite the daily barrage of insults because of her feminine style of dressing, she still manages to make friends around her amid a climate of hate.

Uganda gay pride
'Bad Black' puts on make-up as she prepares to attend a trans-day health talk at an undisclosed location in the suburbs of Kampala, UgandaEdward Echwalu/Reuters

"While homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, many in the LGBT community are more afraid of hostility from their next-door neighbours than from the law. Those who have found places to live are always afraid of who notices them and how the general wider community reacts. I was working in an extremely difficult environment not least because the stories of many of these incredible people were hard to comprehend. Driven out of home at tender ages, many had to navigate homelessness and abuse. Most of the people I met were facing difficult personal struggles, dealing with family rejection and contending with a homophobic community all around them."