Kasha Nabagesera - An Ongoing Battle for LGBT Rights




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Mar 09, 2017
by Andrea Abellan
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Kasha Nabagesera - An Ongoing Battle for LGBT Rights

Salzburg Global Fellow profiled on CNN for her human rights activism in Uganda Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera speaking at the 2016 Salzburg Global LGBT Forum convened in Thailand

In the West, much of the discourse around LGBT rights is currently focused on marriage and adoption, but in other regions, LGBT activists are fighting for the right to simply exist, free from legal persecution and prosecution.

Not only is homosexuality still illegal in 38 African countries, but it is also still punishable by death in four. As a consequence of these oppressive legal systems, the African LGBT community remains unprotected against homophobic discrimination, physical and emotional abuse, and persecution. In spite of the hostility, the number of citizens standing up against such oppression keeps growing.

Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera is such an example. The activist, considered the pioneer of defending LGBT rights in Uganda, founded the association Freedom & Roam Uganda (FARUG) in 2003 to raise awareness of this discrimination. She has also been involved in the creation of Kuchu Times and Bombastic, two media organizations looking for a wider representation of LGBT people in the African media landscape.

Nabagesera’s contributions have been acknowledged on many occasions. She has been awarded the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award, and the Right Livelihood Award. Her inspiring story has been widely featured in the media too.  She was the first openly gay African woman to appear on the front cover of TIME Magazine. This week CNN has published a piece referring to her as “The face of Uganda’s LGBT movement."

CNN details Nabagesera’s life experiences, which have not been easy at all. She has repeatedly been harassed and threatened because of her sexual orientation. In 2011 she had to cope with the death of her friend and activist David Kato, who was murdered after the Rolling Stone Uganda, a local newspaper published Uganda's “top 100 homosexuals” personal details.  Nevertheless, she persists in her pursuit of LGBT recognition and human rights in her country and around the world.

As part of her global outreach, Nabagesera has been working with Salzburg Global Seminar since 2013 and has participated in all four sessions of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum. Speaking to Salzburg Global, she said the organization increased her self-awareness. She said, "I always want to come back and learn more."

Nabagesera said she appreciates the diversity of participants and the opportunity of having new and past Fellows involved in every session, suggesting it brings a sense of continuity and community to the program.

She will be returning to Salzburg in May to participate in the fifth session, Home: Safety, Wellbeing and Belonging.

To read more about Nabagesera’s story, please click here.