Frank Mugisha (Pic: Rafto Foundation)
Frank Mugisha, head of the Ugandan LGBTI organisation Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), has been awarded another international human rights award, the second this month.
The Rafto Prize, awarded by Norway’s Rafto Foundation, aims to shine a light on “human rights violations and on people and communities that need the attention of the world”.
The prize was awarded to both SMUG, founded in 2004, and its Executive Director Mugisha. Earlier this month, Mugisha was selected to receive the prestigious 2011 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.
Ugandans have faced a wave of homophobia in recent years, with both religious and political leaders targeting the LGBTI community.
“Frank Mugisha and his colleagues in SMUG have demonstrated great courage in fronting the fight for LGBTI people’s rights. People who do not conform to society’s gender and sexual norms are subject to abuse in today’s Uganda. Homosexuality is publicly portrayed as ‘un-African’ and a ‘contagious’ pollutant that destroys society and therefore must be eliminated,” said the Rafto foundation.
“Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons are often ostracised by their families and local communities and are left without any form of social safety net. Many lose their jobs and place at school and end up having to live in the slum.”
Homosexuality is illegal and punishable by jail time in Uganda. There have been efforts, thus unsuccessful, in the country’s parliament to pass the notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which would impose the death penalty in certain cases of convicted homosexuality.
In January, Mugisha’s colleague at SMUG, David Kato, was bludgeoned to death with a hammer in his home.
Pic: Rafto Foundation