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Movement Stories: Our Elders that have shaped the movement

Sandra Ntebi

Sandra created the National LGBTI Security Committee, a board tasked with providing security solutions to the LGBT community if and when they find themselves in security conundrums.

Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera

In 1999, she campaigned to end homophobia in Uganda. She is one of the founding members of the LGBT movement in the 90s. She is one of the founders of FARUG, and Kuchu Times and has fought to decriminalise homosexuality in Uganda by circumventing the Ugandan anti-homosexuality bill. In 2013 Nabagesera founded a magazine, Bombastic, with writing from LGBT Ugandans about the discrimination they had experienced.

Victor Mukasa

A founding director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) (2004-2007). He has also served in varying capacities with the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (EHAHRDN), Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG), Trans Support Initiative, Uganda (TSI-Ug), and the Pan African e-networks African Solidarity and Trans Africa. Mukasa is the current executive director of Kuchu Diaspora Alliance-USA (KDA-USA).

Jay Abang

Jay Abang is a founder of Health and Rights Initiative, an organisation that works to promote the rights of lesbian, bisexual and queer women and girls in Lira, northern Uganda. Health and Rights Initiative aims to raise awareness about human rights through capacity building, research and documentation. It also provides access to sexual and reproductive health services and information for LGBTI+ persons. “We face challenges with our male counterparts, the LBQ women are attacked for their identity and how they want to dress” Jay Abang

Clare Byarugaba

Clare Byarugaba is an LGBT activist and feminist based in Uganda. In 2011, driven by her passion to work for the realization of the rights and freedom of the LGBTI community in Uganda, she became one of a handful of leaders of the movement who were determined to be visible and speak out for the voiceless. She is one of the brains behind the first ever Ugandan gay pride of 2012. In addition to her courageous activism in Uganda, she is an advisor to the World Bank on LGBTI issues for the East African region. Despite the immense risk that comes with being an activist in Uganda, Clare continues to tirelessly work towards fighting the social and institutional injustices that the LGBT community faces.

Ssenfuka Joanita Warry(Biggie)

Biggie is the Executive Director at Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG). She has been part of FARUG since its inception in 2003 as the finance officer. She is also a board member at Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) a network of LGBTI organizations in Uganda and at Global Network for Rainbow Catholics (GNRC). Biggie is a Human Rights Defender, lesbian feminist, actress and rugby player. She was one of the organizers of the first-ever Pride event in Uganda. She is a passionate and committed activist on HIV/AIDS and related health issues amongst LBQ womxn as well as promoting the rights of LGBTI persons.

Diane Sydney Bakuraira

Diane is one of the founding members of the LGBTI movement in Uganda. She is a peer counsellor, educator, co-parent, a sports personality with a particular focus on aquatics related sports, a feminist, and a human rights activist with vast experience working with corporate companies, who is now focused on advocating for the human rights of marginalised groups. She currently works with Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) as the Linking and Learning Officer and is also the Team Leader of the Uganda Kuchu Aquatics Team (UKAT) and she is part of the religious network called Coalition of Affirming Africans Uganda. She is a co-founder of Women of Faith in Action and advocates for the inclusion of women in leadership positions in the church in Uganda. Among other advocacy work, Diane has served as board chair of Freedom and Roam Uganda from 2013-2015 and on the board of the Uganda Coalition of Affirming Africans (UCAA).

Justine Baalya

She is an Advocate of the Law working with the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum as the Head Access to Justice Department. She has provided legal aid to LBQ persons who could otherwise not afford counsel from the legal system. She has helped to ensure that legal and safety provisions are enforced by providing LBQ persons with welfare provisions, such as social housing / Shelter, with access to legal aid and representation in the courts.

Godiva Akullo

She is an advocate of the high court of Uganda and a queer feminist organizer. She is a lecturer on law and a legal consultant with a special interest in sexuality, gender and the law as well as women’s human rights. She is passionate about the rights of women where she has written on Intimate Partner Violence among LBQ women in Kampala and the use of “Naming and Shaming” as a tool to encourage states to respect their International Human Rights Obligation. She influences a lot of LBQ women in committing to creating an equal and just Uganda for all women in the community

Sandra Kwikiriza

Sandra Kwikiriza is the founder of HER Internet and is currently our Executive Director. She is a queer feminist with experience in human rights advocacy and activism, specifically focusing on LBQ and womxn’s rights.She is a digital security trainer and has spearheaded the research program at Fem Alliance Uganda, starting with research on Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) within same-sex relationships with a focus on Lesbians, Bisexual and Queer womxn, Transgender men and womxn sleeping with woman (LBTQ/WSW).Sandra sits on the coordinating team of the LBQ movement in Uganda whose goal is to increase LBQ visibility in the general LGBTQ community; as well as in the womxn’s and feminist movements in Uganda and the region.

Noah Mirembe Gabigogo

Noah is an African ecofeminist and transman with considerable knowledge of human rights, gender and sexuality. He is a co-founder and director at The Taala Foundation, a nonprofit enterprise working to promote wellness for youth on the margins through mental health, education, and healing through justice. He uses his knowledge of the law to push for equality and greater protections for all persons, especially the most vulnerable and excluded members of our society. Noah considers himself a storyteller: he has been a contributor to different visual and audio media projects exploring the lived realities of sexual and gender minorities in Uganda.

Shamillah Batte

The Founder and Executive Director of the Organisation for Gender Empowerment and Rights Advocacy, which is a registered women sex worker-led organisation that works for the betterment of lesbians, bisexual and transgender women, Women Who Have Sex with Women and refugee sex workers living and working in Uganda. She also works as the Coordinator of the Uganda Network for Sex Worker Organisations (UNESO), an umbrella body for the sex worker movement in Uganda. In both organisations, her role is to ensure the health and human rights of sex workers in Uganda are respected regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race or nationality.“As a sex worker, it is her obligation to protect my work. Besides that, I could not just stand and watch my fellow sex workers face all sorts of violations, mainly because they could not access health information, education, treatment, and legal representation. All these inspired me to come out and be a voice for the voiceless.”

Joan Amek

She is a Ugandan lesbian feminist passionate about elevating the livelihood of women through SRHR advocacy, self-healing, and entrepreneurship to eradicate the root cause of poverty and injustices. Her life intends to aid others to create the gainful, meaningful, and fulfilling lives they want and deserve. She is a co-founder of the Rella Women’s Foundation a Civil Society Feminist Organisation that envisions a world where all LBQ persons live equally regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, expression, and background to thrive politically, economically, socially, and mentally. She is a global influencer, and a thought leader, championing and shaping agendas surrounding LBQ women in Uganda to bring high-quality, affordable services to those who need them most as she creates safe spaces and builds global awareness, momentum, and support for Rella WF in innovative, entrepreneurial, and effective community initiatives.

Naome Ruzindana

Naome Ruzindana is a Ugandan LGBT and human rights activist who has dedicated her life to fighting for the rights of marginalised communities. She is a fierce advocate for gender equality, women’s rights, and social justice. As a member of the LGBT community herself, Naome has faced discrimination and violence in her personal life, which has only strengthened her resolve to fight for justice and equality for all.

Naome’s activism journey began when she started working with the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law in Uganda. She quickly rose through the ranks and became the coordinator of the coalition’s Sexual Minorities program in 2011. Naome has been at the forefront of several campaigns, including advocating for the repeal of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, which imposed harsh penalties on same-sex relations.

Despite facing death threats, harassment, and physical violence, Naome has continued to fight for the rights of the LGBT community in Uganda. She has been instrumental in setting up safe spaces and providing support for LGBT individuals who have been discriminated against or persecuted because of their sexual orientation.

Diane Karungi

Diane Karungi is a revolutionist, a friend, an activist, an LBQ community member and a board member of Rella Women’s Foundation. She is using writing, communication and storytelling to scream out the issues at hand and contribute to the rough journey to freedom in the Ugandan LBQ community.

Her connection with the community not only brings forth the lived realities but also delivers and gives her a chance to listen to and document the different individuals’ stories about both the struggles and victories of the Ugandan LGBTIQ+ community. “I do what I do for the betterment of our community. I am not saying nothing has been done towards this endeavour, but we can use all the help we can get, and try to not leave anyone.behind. So in whatever way I can help, I‘ll do it because it all counts.” Read More.
Maria Natale

Maria Nantale, an activist in Mbale, Uganda, has developed a new strategy to reach those most at risk of HIV /AIDs. Nantale, the director of the Eastern Region Women’s Empowerment Organisation along with a small team of nurses, a lab technician, and a counsellor, holds events in the eastern Ugandan town where she publicly tests people for HIV, and lets them know their status in a safe space with no judgement.

The public outreach events are intended to target those most at-risk from HIV people who are LGBTQ, drug users, and sex workers. In Uganda, where homophobia is rampant, Nantale reportedly realized that offering tests to everyone, instead of singling out people from these marginalized demographics, goes a long way in combating public perceptions that LGBTQ people are “diseased”.

Shivan Pavin Alungnat

She looks forward to creating an environment that allows LBQ women to express themselves authentically and reach the apex of their careers. She works for the better protection of policies for LBQ women and the entire LGBTIQ+ community in terms of education, employment, Housing, feeding, health and socializing hence creating awareness against modern slavery amongst the LGBTIQ+ community. She was awarded the award of Rights and Talent Activist as she uses her talent to advocate for the rights of LGBTIQ persons in Uganda directly without fear.

Jay Mukasa

He is a Sports Activist, Transgender Feminist, and the founder of Tomorrow Women in Sports Foundation (TWISF) which was established in 2017. TWISF is an LBTQ-led organization that focuses on promoting and advocating for the rights of LBQ women and transmen in sports by creating an equal environment that empowers them to take on sports leadership positions, advocating for equality, non-discrimination policies, social justice inclusion and visibility in mainstream sports. They started a campaign that stems from the fact that sports are not a safe place to be gay aims at advocacy against acts of homophobia and transphobia perpetrated toward LGBTQ persons in the sports field. “By its very nature, sport is an ideal arena in which to tackle discrimination and to champion equality of opportunity and fair play for all. So, there should be no place for homophobia, biphobia or transphobia in sports. “

Pepe Julian Onziema

In 2012, he was awarded the Clinton Global Citizen Award for Leadership in Civil Society for his pioneering work advocating for LGBTI welfare, and also received Stonewall’s “Hero of the Year” award in 2014. Mr Onziema has explored ways in which to increase citizens’ awareness of the Ugandan Constitution and Bill of Rights, intending to enhance their participation in democratic governance and respect for all human rights. He works toward this goal by developing a training manual and booklet illustrating the rights of marginalized groups under Uganda’s Constitution, with practical exercises on how specific rights may be claimed and enjoyed.

Kim Mukasa

A human rights and refugee lawyer is a female-to-male transgender activist from Uganda, East Africa. Born and raised in Africa, he has spent his professional years devoting his energy/time to activism advocating for the rights and freedoms of marginalized communities, minority groups and vulnerable individuals in his region and the rest of the world. Mukasa represents forced migrants from different regions in Africa including the East and Horn. For five years, he has fast-tracked the protection of gender minorities including Trans*, Intersex children, women, girls, sexual minorities, male survivors of sexual violence, Persons With Disabilities, elderly, survivors of Female Genital Mutilation, forced marriage, and domestic violence. He has experience in training law enforcement agencies like police and prison authorities on gender identities and Sexual Gender Based Violence. He has also engaged in dialogues with health care providers, social workers and ministries. He continues to contribute to strategic litigation preparations and the challenge of discriminatory legislation in Uganda. Kim is on the Steering Committee of The first International Trans* Fund. He is on the Advisory Board of the Trans respect v Transphobia worldwide Project of Transgender Europe. He is also a rising researcher/consultant on identity and sexuality issues in the region with experience working with UHAI, an activist region Fund.

Shawn Mugisha

Shawn Mugisha is a transgender man and human rights activist, co-founder and Director of Advocacy and Community Liaison at Ubuntu Law and Justice Centre. During pride 2019, he was in charge of the security and safety team for the Pride event. Shawn, who has worked as a paralegal and for several human rights NGOs, helped to secure their release. But he says that once free, LBGTQ+ people who have been persecuted by the state go to shelters where help is limited to providing for basic needs. Having studied permaculture, Shawn believes sustainable food production can help victims of discrimination and abuse heal from trauma and build a life that isn’t dependent on activities like sex work that could land them back in police hands. “Ethical human-centred design is putting you at the centre of solving your problems and looking at the history of these problems,” he explains. “We live in a society where once you have any sort of contribution you give towards the community you have social protection,” he says. “I think it’s time we start relying on our homegrown solutions to fight marginalization and discrimination.” Particularly in urban areas where food is scarce, “it’s something that we can use as an approach to advocacy and creating more social inclusion.”