Uganda LGBT Advocate Receives Human Rights Award

Jim Burroway

September 15th, 2011

Frank Mugisha

Frank Mugisha, Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), has been chosen to receive the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. From the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights:

“Frank Mugisha’s unbending advocacy for gay rights in Uganda in the face of deep-rooted homophobia is a testament to the indomitability of the human spirit,” said RFK Human Rights Award Judge Dean Makau Mutua, Professor of Law and Dean of the University at Buffalo Law School (SUNY).

…”Frank Mugisha has fought courageously in support of the rights of sexual minorities in Uganda, despite death threats and even exile,” said Kerry Kennedy, president of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. “He has become a leading advocate for sexual minorities in a country where they are persecuted, jailed, and their lives destroyed. We are proud at the RFK Center to begin our partnership with Mr. Mugisha to advance his invaluable work within this movement.”

…”For me, it is about standing out and speaking in an environment where you are not sure if you will survive the next day; it is this fear that makes me strong, to work hard and fight on to see a better life for LGBTI persons in Uganda,” said Mr. Mugisha. “The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award gives me courage and hope that my work, which may not be accepted and recognized in my own country, is making a change with this international visibility.”

Mugisha has been an LGBT advocate since 2004, when he began advocating for LGBT and HIV/AIDS awareness as a college student. He started a support group, Icebreakers, to help LGBT people who were struggling through the issues of coming out. He had to flee the country when police targeted him for arrest, but he has since returned to continue his advocacy work in the face of death threats and governmental efforts to impose the death penalty on gay people.


September 15th, 2011

Great news. On a sadder note, this letter appeared in today’s West County Times (that’ Contra Costa County, in Northern California):

Fighting AIDS

Uganda’s proactive stance against homosexuality is because it has the highest number of orphans in the world, at least 2 million, because of AIDS. Those most infected are age 15-49, who are in their prime working years. As a result, Uganda’s labor force and industry have been dramatically curtailed.

Schools, families, social services, etc., are all suffering. AIDS cost Uganda nearly $1 billion in 2002. It has a medical crisis. Fifty percent of patients in hospital beds are sick and dying from AIDS.

The Ugandan government is trying to keep more citizens from being infected because of the high-risk behavior of gays. Should government officials stand by and let millions of innocent citizens die and children become orphaned because some say the officials are homophobic?

Unlike America, Uganda doesn’t tout homosexuality in schools and society as normal sexual behavior, because normal sexual behavior does not result in HIV/AIDS epidemics like Uganda’s people are suffering from.

Their government has the right as it sees fit to enact laws to eradicate and control the devastation this behavior has caused its people and country.

George Munoz

Apparently, the misinformation campaign is still working in some quarters. Perhaps someone could help set Mr. Munoz straight.

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