Ugandan LGBT activist becomes Human Rights Defender of the Month

December 7, 2012

While the debate is again raging in the Ugandan parliament and internationally on adopting an anti-homosexuality bill with extremely severe punishments, Stockholm-based Civil Rights Defenders as adopted as its HRD of the Month: Brian Nkoyooyo.

‘Fit in’, instead of standing out, is a general security advice for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people in Uganda. “It is a matter of survival”, says Brian Nkoyooyo, Director of the grass root organisation Icebreakers that works with LGBT youth. Since he is a well-known gay activist in a country that is considered to be one of the worst countries for LGBT people, he is always on guard: “I live every day as it was my last”.

Icebreakers Uganda is a grass root organisation founded in 2004 that functions as a node for small networks, in both rural and urban Uganda. The discretely hidden office in Kampala is open throughout the week and plays an important part as a gathering point where people can meet and share experiences, use the library and get Internet access.

The interview gives considerable detail on the question and modalities of “coming out” linked to Brian’s own life experience.

The organisation strives to help people accept and be comfortable with their sexual orientation and gender identity, but calls for caution when coming out:

Interesting is that Brian states “Ironically, in 2009 the Anti Gay Bill actually led to a positive development for the LGBT movement in Uganda. Previously, only a few civil society organisations had included LGBT people’s rights in their work for human rights. With the tabling of the bill, a coalition of several civil society actors was formed to fight the Bill.” Kasha becoming the MEA Laureate in 2011 was another rallying point.

Brian Nkoyooyo

Foto: Ninke Liebert Photography

“As an activist, I can stand up and speak out. People may choose to listen and other may not. I can easily be made to shut up. But with art, it lasts for centuries and it reaches a wider audience. I prefer use of art and music because I know the biggest number of the community appreciates it compared to long boring speeches”.

Despite being constantly afraid, for his family’s sake, his gay and straight friends and himself, Brian continues to work because he has a vision for the LGBT community and Uganda at large. “A dream where people live harmoniously regardless of their differences: sexual orientation, race, gender and more. A society full of love”.

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One Response to “Ugandan LGBT activist becomes Human Rights Defender of the Month”

  1. […] Ugandan LGBT activist becomes Human Rights Defender of the Month ( […]

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