Frank Mugisha

Champion of Human Rights | Kampala, Uganda

Frank Mugisha is a respected champion of Human Rights, an anti-violence advocate and one of the few openly LGBTI activists in Uganda. Mr. Mugisha serves as the Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), the largest and leading organization of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) movement Uganda and as the Founder of Icebreakers Uganda.  

Mr. Mugisha was born in a suburb of Kampala, Uganda, and raised in a strict Catholic family. He came “out” gay at age fourteen, which estranged him from some family members. He was close friends with fellow advocate David Kato, who was brutally murdered in January of 2011, after successfully suing the tabloid “Rolling Stone” for publishing the names of 100 LGBT Ugandans with an encouragement to “hang them”.

In 2007, he, along with other Ugandan LGBTI community members, came out publicly during a forty-five day media campaign entitled, “Let Us Live in Peace.”  In 2009, Mr. Mugisha led human rights activists in a massive march to petition the Ugandan Parliament to stop the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which then had a death penalty, and was among the petitioners to fight the anti-gay law that was eventually nullified by the Ugandan courts. Mr. Mugisha also started the first and only LGBT Health Center in Uganda in 2012. In 2016, Mr. Mugisha was arrested and detained for his outspoken work on LGBTI rights during the Uganda Pride celebration which led to signficant international criticism and pressure.

Mugisha was awarded United Nations Human Rights Defenders Recognition in 2010, the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, the Rafto Prize, the Cinema for Peace Human Rights Award. He has received honorary doctorate degrees from Ghent University in Belgium and Glasgow University in Scotland.

Frank Mugisha bravely continues to work for the security, equality and dignity of Uganda’s LGBTI community, despite threats to his life.  Currently, Mr. Mugisha is one of the plaintiffs from SMUG represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, suing American anti gay evangelist Scott Lively for crimes against humanity for his advocacy for Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill.