Uganda: LGBTI Human Rights Defender Receives Kennedy Award

Frank Mugisha, a Ugandan LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) human rights defender has been selected for the 2011 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. He has been commended for his work in the LGBTI community especially in Uganda. Mugisha is the Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), an umbrella organisation that protects and recognises LGBTI people in the country.

Ugandan LGBTI activist, Frank Mugisha. Image taken from Twitter (@frankmugisha).

Ugandan LGBTI activist, Frank Mugisha. Image taken from Twitter (@frankmugisha).

Frank Mugisha, a prominent young advocate for the rights of sexual minorities in Uganda, has been chosen to receive the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. Mr. Mugisha is the Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a leading organization of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) movement in the East African country.In Uganda, LGBTI organizations operate in a dangerously hostile climate, and Mr. Mugisha is one of the few openly gay LGBTI activists. As a spokesperson for the movement, he amplifies the voice of one of the most vulnerable groups in the country.

“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).

The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights established the Award in 1984 to recognise activists and support authors and journalists working for the advancement of human rights:

The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award was established in 1984 to honor courageous and innovative individuals striving for social justice throughout the world. Each year, the RFK Center awards an individual whose courageous activism is at the heart of the human rights movement and in the spirit of Robert Kennedy.

Frank Mugisha has significantly contributed to advancing gay rights in Uganda, a country which earlier this year has seen the proposal of the controversial anti-gay bill and the assault and murder of the late David Kato, another famous gay activist.

Mugisha runs Sexual Minority Uganda (SMUG), a gay center in capital Kampala comprised of two member organisations: Integrity Uganda, which tackles the crucial integration of identity and religion amongst LGBTI Ugandans, and Icebreakers Uganda, which focuses more on research and youth issues.

Our Vision: A liberated LGBTI people of Uganda.
Our mission: is to oversee and support member organizations to achieve their objectives aimed at LGBTI liberation.
As a coalition, we focus on advocacy and coordination of efforts by local and international bodies.

Mrs. Robert F. Kennedy and Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will present Frank Mugisha with his award in Washington, D.C., on November 10.


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