Kasha Nabagesera has walked the rough path many would have surrendered, fighting for justice for the members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community in Uganda.
Nabagesera is the founder of the LGBTI rights organization in Uganda, the Freedom & Roam Uganda (FARUG), which she started at the age of 19 years in 1999. She has publicly campaigned for an end to homophobia in Uganda, where homosexuality is illegal and seen as taboo. Under FARUG, Nabagasera has continued to fight for gay rights challenging the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill, geared to impose stiff sentences ranging from prison sentences to the death penalty.
The fight wasn’t easy. But she won.
Amnesty International believes that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be able to enjoy their human rights. Although the Universal Declaration of Human Rights does not explicitly mention sexual orientation or gender identity, evolving conceptions of international human rights law include a broad interpretation to include the rights and the protection of the rights of LGBTI people around the world.
The activist has faced harassment, she has been subjected to discriminatory practices from community members due to her activism. She has been repeatedly evicted from rented homes because her neighbors don’t condone her sexuality. The fear of being attacked by a mob, stopped her from using the public transport or freely walking in the streets alone, but this could not deter her from fighting for the rights of the LGBTI community.
According to her organization, in 2010, Nabagesera opened the only Ugandan bar for LGBT people; named Sappho Islands, the bar was situated in a suburb of Kampala and later closed in 2011 following pressure from the government and communities around.
Growing up gay in a hostile environment
Nabagesera was born 12 April 1980 in Kampala, Uganda, to Prince Albert Walugembe Musoke, who was an economist and officer of the Bank of Uganda and her mother, Julie Viola Katantazi Musoke was among the first computer programmers in Uganda.
CNN reported that at the age of 13 she started writing love letters to girls in her school, and she brushed shoulders with the school administration.
The letters would bring her to trouble with the school administration and at some point she got expelled from various schools as her sexuality was seen as something unacceptable.
At university, the troubles persisted, and her parents had to intervene for her to be able to finish her education.
Pioneer of the Uganda’s LGBTI rights movement
At the age of 19 in 1999 Nabagesera formed Uganda’s sole LGBTI rights movement the Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) organization to continue fighting for the lesbians who were constantly being harassed, insulted and discriminated by society.
FARUG is one of the oldest organizations in Uganda that works on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression through lobbying, dialogue, and visibility.
For the last 10 years, FARUG has developed and implemented interventions in Uganda. FARUG is committed to addressing every day challenges for the protection and promotion of human rights for LBT women in Uganda in the face of gender and sexual based violence, abuse, rights violations and poverty among others.
Recognition of Kasha Nabagesera’s work
Through her continued fighting for the LGBTI rights, Nabagesera has received several prestigious awards, including the 2011 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, the 2013 Nuremberg International Human Rights Awards and the 2015 Right Livelihood Award.
Through her fight, she said “I have seen an increase in the number of Ugandan LGBT activists, an open of its first LGBT health clinic in Kampala and people can now walk freely for medical advice, without fearing ridicule or being arrested”.
Nabagesera has been bold for change as the theme for IWD 2017 calls on everyone, to help forge a better working world – a more gender inclusive world #BeBoldForChange.