As the Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), Frank Mugisha has long risked his personal safety for the cause of LGBT rights in a nation particularly hostile to them. He faces death threats and other forms of intimidation regularly, friends and colleagues were murdered. Because of his work promoting human rights of LGBT people in Uganda and as a gay man himself, he has lost jobs and friends and has become estranged from family. With the help of lawyers from Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, he set about challenging the law, despite the disastrous consequences by the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which among other things made LGBT people afraid to seek medical treatment for fear of being arrested.
His courage paid off. Though anti-LGBT sentiment remains high in Uganda and the threat of more legislation persists, in August of 2014, a judge overturned the law. Frank Mugisha was awarded United Nations Human Rights Defenders Recognition in 2010, the prestigious 2011 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, the 2011 Rafto Prize for Human Rights in Bergen, Norway, for his work pursuing LGBTI rights in Uganda, and the Cinema for Peace Human Rights Award in 2013.
As a student at Kampala’s Kyambogo University in 2004, Mugisha founded Icebreakers Uganda, a support network for LGBTI Ugandans who are out, or in the process of coming out to family and friends. Icebreakers Uganda offers counseling and suicide prevention services for openly gay people in a place where both law and public opinion regards them as criminal. Mugisha is the executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), the largest and leading organization of the LGBTI movement in the East African country. The umbrella organization consists of four groups, including Icebreakers Uganda. He has received honorary doctorate degrees from Ghent University in Belgium, and Glasgow University in Scotland. He has given motivational lectures and talks around the world, and has met and influenced world leaders, celebrities, and influential persons to fight anti-gay legislation in his country.
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