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Ugandan, Gay and Brave
|Last Edited||Forwardista Nov 28, 2011 10:47pm|
|News Date||Tuesday, November 29, 2011 06:00:00 AM UTC0:0|
|Description||Activist Frank Mugisha weighs in on homophobia in his country and how African Americans can help. |
Frank Mugisha was only a teenager when he came out as gay to his family and classmates in Uganda, a country where that admission didn't just subject him to possible bullying; it put his life at risk.
Uganda is one of more than 70 countries worldwide that criminalize consensual gay conduct, and Mugisha says that 80 percent of Uganda's citizens now support a highly controversial piece of pending legislation that would make homosexuality punishable by death in certain cases and would criminalize the work of "LGBTI" (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) organizations.
Since Mugisha joined other activists in coming out publicly during a 45-day media campaign in 2007, he has been targeted for arrest, fled the country and returned to work as director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), an organization at the forefront of the gay-rights movement in the country. His Icebreakers Uganda group offers counseling and suicide-prevention services to those who are brave enough to be openly gay in a place where both law and pubic opinion deem such a lifestyle criminal.
Still just 29 years old, Mugisha does this work in a climate that's undeniably dangerous and hostile. His colleague, gay-rights activist David Kato, was murdered in January of this year after being featured in an anti-gay newspaper that "outed" people it said were gay and called on the government to kill them. (His killer was just sentenced to 30 years in jail.) Mugisha was identified the same way in 2008, 2009 and 2010.