Ugandan Gay Rights: Frank Mugisha


The safest place for a gay person in Uganda may be the closet. Hostility towards homosexuals occasionally bursts into homicidal violence. And the government is sitting on an anti-homosexuality bill that provides for the death penalty. Still, the country has outspoken advocates for gay rights like Frank Mugisha who worries time is running out.

Find out more about the symposium Frank Mugisha is involved in.

"One of the most important responsibilities that the Prime Minister has given me is to promote Canadian values, and Canadian values are accepting, they're tolerant, they welcome diversity ... one of the great gifts Canada is to promote pluralism around the world".

Foreign Minister John Baird

Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird is anxious to spread Canadian ideals overseas. But his call for Uganda to change the way it treats sexual minorities may not have his intended outcome.

Rebecca Kadaga, the Speaker of Uganda's parliament was in Canada last year on an official visit. And on returning home, she resented feeling pushed around.

"I said I would not accept to be intimidated or directed by any government in the world because we are independent. We are Ugandans. We are not a colony of Canada. We're not even a protectorate. (applause) If the price of aid is going to be promoting homosexuality in this country, I think we don't want that aid. I don't think we want it".

Rebecca Kadaga, the Speaker of Uganda's parliament

Rebecca Kadaga said international pressure just strengthens her determination to pass anti-homosexuality legislation. By Canadian standards, a law that includes the noose as punishment is hardly enlightened.

But for activists like Frank Mugisha, this isn't some arcane legal debate. He is a brave and rare thing in Uganda, an openly gay person. He's also the Executive Director of (SMUG) Sexual Minorities Uganda. He's in Canada this week for some speaking engagements and meetings with the Canadian government and joined us in the studio. 

* Hear 'A Conversation with Frank Mugisha' at the annual symposium on HIV, Law and Human Rights in Toronto.

Frank Mugisha is also the founder of Icebreakers Uganda.

This segment was produced by The Current's Liz Hoath.

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