Update on the Global LGBTQ Rights Movement

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Community Learning and Collaboration

On the first leg of a multi-city journey across the United States and Canada, Goldin Institute senior advisor Frank Mugisha came to Chicago for a public event hosted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs on April 27, 2017.  “The Global LGBTQ Rights Movement” featured Mugisha in an hour-long conversation with Project& director Jane M. Saks before an audience upwards of 60 people in Chicago and hundreds online.

CCGAAkifAdvisory board member Akif Irfan made opening remarks and introduced the panel. Given the primary topic of the evening, Irfan noted the one year anniversary of the murder of our friend and collaborator Xulhaz Mannan death at the hands of anti-gay extremists in Bangladesh.

While stunning victories are being won for gay rights in the US and around the world, we today remember the one year anniversary of the death of our friend and colleague in Bangladesh, Xulhaz Mannan, who was brutally murdered by a hate group for his public role as an LGBT advocate. Akif Irfan, Board of Advisors

Over the course of an hour, Mugisha and Saks covered a spectrum of compelling, often gasp-inducing stories and reflections on Mugisha’s journey as an openly gay activist in Uganda. As recently as last August, he and a handful of colleagues at  “SMUG” (the Sexual Minorities of Uganda), the organization which he leads, were arrested and jailed by local police at a Pride Uganda event. While he escaped physical abuse, he was grossly mistreated and his colleagues were physically assaulted, repeatedly. Recognized as one of Fortune Magazine’s “50 World’s Greatest Leaders,” Mugisha is a past Nobel Peace Prize nominee and a recipient of the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award.

Through the advocacy we do, we can create political capital around ourselves. It's given some bit of safety. We also think that if we have our own physical space it will give us security as well. Frank Mugisha, SMUG Uganda

Frank Mugisha shared the latest news from his groundbreaking lawsuit against American pastor Scott Lively for “crimes against humanity” for his vitriolic hate speech against LGBTQ Ugandans, and advocacy against their safe, equal citizenship.

Thanks to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the conversation was filmed and archived and is now available to watch:  

 

Frank Mugisha made many insightful comments during the conversation:

When you are on the battlefield, when you have backup, you can continue moving forward. The friends I have around the world keep me going. In the most troubling time in Uganda, when there was the anti-gay law, we were able to win thanks to our partners.

The young people in Uganda call me or reach out on Facebook, saying 'we feel you speaking out for us here'.

At SMUG, we've had to set up a program where we are managing crises as well as programming.

When my colleagues and I came out of jail, I realized we had to work hard because the ignorance about LGBT people is so great.

Homophobia was imported to Africa through religion. Religion has been embraced so much.

The churches in Uganda have impunity. They can do anything they want and walk away.

A special thank you to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs for hosting and live streaming the event. Amidst a wonderful team there, we wish to acknowledge Jon Macha, Tria Raimundo and Dzena Berbic for their thoughtful, gracious and professional partnership.

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