Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera
( 2015 , Ouganda )

…pour son courage et sa persévérance, en dépit de la violence et l’intimidation, à assurer le droit des personneslesbiennes, gays, bisexuelles, transsexuelles et intersexes (LGBTI) à une vie exempte de préjugés et de persécutions.

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...the day is not far when discrimination against people based on who they love will also be left behind in the wastebasket of history.


Défendant les droits des personnes LGBTI en Ouganda, Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera est l’une des militantes des droits humains les plus courageuses et remarquables en Afrique. Agissant dans un environnement hostile et répressif,  Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera a mis en lumière les violations des droits de l’Homme, et a utilisé avec succès le système judiciaire pour faire avancer les droits des personnes LGBTI. Elle a surmonté de nombreuses menaces pour faire campagne contre des lois répressives, et utilise une gamme d’outils créatifs et innovants pour continuer à briser les mythes et les stéréotypes concernant les personnes LGBTI, en Ouganda et ailleurs.

Contact

Website FARUG
Twitter: @Far_Uganda
Website Kuchu Times
Twitter: @KuchuTimes
https://twitter.com/KuchuTimes
Twitter: @KashaJacqueline

Biography

From accountant to activist

Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera was born in 1980 and studied to become an accountant. Having openly lived as a lesbian all her life, she was nearly expelled from university in 2002 for her sexual identity. This incident motivated her to become a human rights activist, and after taking courses in human rights law and interning with a South African LGBTI organisation, Nabagesera founded the NGO Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) in 2003. FARUG advocates and lobbies for policy change of discriminatory laws, researches and documents human rights abuses, shares information to sensitise the LGBTI community and entire population about issues of sexual orientation and gender identity, and engages in grassroots organising to empower and mobilise the LGBTI community to assert their rights and lead healthy lives. After 10 years of leadership, Nabagesera stepped down as Executive Director of FARUG in 2013, focusing her efforts on community building and advocacy.

Litigating and campaigning to realise human rights

Nabagesera is one of the few activists in Uganda who has engaged in the judicial process to advance the rights of the LGBTI community. When a Ugandan tabloid published the names and photos of (alleged) gay and lesbian people, she was one of three individuals who took the newspaper to court and won. When in 2012 t …

From accountant to activist

Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera was born in 1980 and studied to become an accountant. Having openly lived as a lesbian all her life, she was nearly expelled from university in 2002 for her sexual identity. This incident motivated her to become a human rights activist, and after taking courses in human rights law and interning with a South African LGBTI organisation, Nabagesera founded the NGO Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) in 2003. FARUG advocates and lobbies for policy change of discriminatory laws, researches and documents human rights abuses, shares information to sensitise the LGBTI community and entire population about issues of sexual orientation and gender identity, and engages in grassroots organising to empower and mobilise the LGBTI community to assert their rights and lead healthy lives. After 10 years of leadership, Nabagesera stepped down as Executive Director of FARUG in 2013, focusing her efforts on community building and advocacy.

Litigating and campaigning to realise human rights

Nabagesera is one of the few activists in Uganda who has engaged in the judicial process to advance the rights of the LGBTI community. When a Ugandan tabloid published the names and photos of (alleged) gay and lesbian people, she was one of three individuals who took the newspaper to court and won. When in 2012 the Minister of Ethics shut down a workshop involving several LGBTI organisations claiming that such a gathering was illegal, Nabagesera was among those who sued the minister for violating their freedom of assembly. These court actions are slowly helping to shift public opinion in Uganda towards the notion that LGBTI people have constitutionally guaranteed rights.

Nabagesera has also lobbied and campaigned against several unjust laws. She is a member of the Steering Committee of the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, which includes more than 60 Ugandan human rights organisations that came together to work to stop the draconian anti-homosexuality law. She was one of the ten petitioners who challenged the bill passed in February 2014, which imposed further measures to criminalise homosexuality and trample upon LGBTI rights. This successful legal challenge saw the Anti-Homosexuality Act being annulled by the Constitutional Court of Uganda in August 2014 on a technicality. Additionally, Nabagesera is working in coalition with sex workers, HIV/AIDS victims and women to challenge provisions in the HIV/AIDS Control and Prevention Act 2014 that stigmatises the LGBTI community.

Despite being arrested, attacked and subjected to harassment, Nabagesera persists with her advocacy. As a result of harsh reprisals, most Ugandan LGBTI activists have been killed or have fled, leaving Nabagesera as one of very few prominent members of the Ugandan LGBTI movement still living in the country. Nabagesera was responsible for developing a ‘security team’ that is able to respond rapidly to human rights abuses and arbitrary arrests of LGBTI persons, and provide legal support and solidarity to victims.

Breaking myths and countering homophobia

Kasha Nabagesera and FARUG have initiated a number of campaigns designed to alter negative perceptions of LGBTI people. The 2011 Hate no More campaign reached out to the mass media in Uganda with the aim of fighting homophobia and stopping misconceptions and myths about same-sex relationships. The Break the Chains campaign used newsletters to unearth the real life experiences of LGBTI women in 2007. In 2014, Nabagsera created the Kuchu Times, a platform that uses television, radio and print material to inform people on LGBTI issues. As part of the Kuchu Times, the Bombastic magazine, launched in 2014 and funded through crowdsourcing, shares accounts of the lives of LGBTI Ugandans. It has been downloaded more than 2 million times. Nabagesera also continues to organise the annual Pride Uganda celebration and reacted to the increased fear within the LGBTI community by throwing an open birthday party attended by 200 people in 2014. Additionally, Nabagesera endeavours to sensitise the wider Ugandan population on LGBTI persons and their rights by distributing pamphlets in police stations, discotheques, arcades and shopping complexes across the country.

Regional and international advocacy

Besides working in Uganda, Nabagesera has also frequently used regional and international mechanisms to hold the Ugandan government to account for its failure to meet its human rights obligations. She has frequently testified on the situation of LGBTI persons at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in The Gambia. She has also taken up the cause of LGBTI people regionally, engaging with government ministries and the media across Africa. In addition, Nabagesera is a member of the Coalition of African Lesbians and lobbies the African Commission on LGBTI issues.

Honours

Kasha Nabagesera received the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in 2011 and the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award in 2013. In June 2015, she was featured on the cover of TIME Magazine’s European edition.

 
 

Interviews

Out in Africa: Can Uganda’s gay-rights activists stop the government from enacting another homophobic law? – Cover story in Time Magazine, European issue, June 2015. Available here.

Gay Ugandans hope new magazine will rewrite wrongs by tackling homophobia – The Guardian, February 2015. Available here.

“De vill skära halsen av mig” –Ottar, Sweden, September 2015.Available here (in Swedish).

Uganda gay activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera hailed – BBC News, May 2011, when she received the Martin Ennals Award. Available here.

Meet the Ugandan Lesbian Fighting for LGBT Equality – The Advocate, June 2015 (republished from 2013). Available here.

Interview as member of the Václav Havel Jury of the One World Human Rights Documentary Film Festival

March 2013

Publications

Magazines

Bombastic magazine – December 2014. Edited by Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera. Online edition available here.