“,,,for her courage and persistence, despite violence and intimidation, in working for the right of LGBTI people to a life free from prejudice and persecution”.
Fighting for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in Uganda, Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera is one of the most courageous and outspoken human rights activists in Africa. Operating within a hostile and repressive environment, Nabagesera has shed light on human rights violations, and has successfully used the judicial system to advance LGBTI rights. She has overcome threats to campaign against repressive laws and uses a range of creative and innovative tools to continue breaking myths and stereotypes surrounding LGBTI people in Uganda and elsewhere.
Kasha was a guests at the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum, a Media Partner of Pressenza, and we had the opportunity to listen to her in the plenary session and were impressed by her activism in a country where human rights are not respected. She kindly accepted our request for a short interview about herself, her activities and motivation.
Pressenza: What is the current situation of the LGBTI community in Uganda?
Kasha J. Nabagesera: The situation right now is a bit calm and all organisations are embarking on their usual work of training in advocacy and lobbying, economic empowerment, information dissemination and health. We have a breathing space which is helping us do our community outreach programme but we are also using this time to evaluate our struggle following the implementation of the Anti Homosexuality Law and also reflecting and strategizing on how we can respond should another new law be introduced. It’s a time that we are using to strengthen relationships with our partners and allies but also to build more for the future of our struggle.
PZ: Why and when did you decide to become an activist?.
KJN: I decided in 1999 after getting fed up and tired of the injustice that I was facing personally for being an open lesbian that included attempted sexual harassment from my school mates, school expulsions and suspensions and more so after discovering that it was illegal to be LGBTI in Uganda and that the law stipulated a 14 year to life sentence in prison. That was my turning point to stand up and do something about it.
PZ: What activities are being done in order to change the situation?
KJN: We are lobbying the National health agencies to include us in national health policies, we are using the media to change attitudes through our media platform Kuchu Times Media Group (KTMG) which consists of an online TV, radio, blog magazine and also a print magazine that we distribute throughout the year annually to share the lived realities of LGBTI persons ranging from relationships, family, religion, parenting, health, community events, homophobic/transphobic attacks to mention a few.