Sexual Minorities Uganda
The Ugandan gay rights activist was born in a suburb of Kampala. Raised in a strict Catholic family, he came out at age 14. In 2004, during his undergraduate studies, Mugisha founded Icebreakers Uganda, an organization created as a support network for LGBT individuals who are out or in the process of coming out to family and friends. Icebreakers Uganda offers counseling and suicide-prevention services to those who are brave enough to be openly gay in a place where both law and public opinion deem such an identity to be criminal. Since then, he has scaled his efforts by leading Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), an umbrella organization consisting of eighteen groups, including the ﬁrst and only LGBT health center in Uganda. Today Mugisha serves as SMUG's Executive Director. In addition to promoting equality for the LGBT community in Uganda, Mugisha and his team at SMUG have been ﬁghting legal and ideological battles with Ugandan Parliament and Springﬁeld, MA resident Scott Lively for years to curb discriminatory, anti-gay rhetoric from pervading Ugandan society. Dr. Mugisha has led the grassroots movement to save thousands of LBGTI Ugandans, like himself, from persecution, incarceration, and death. In 2016, he along with members of his executive team at SMUG were brutally arrested at Uganda's annual pride march and tortured in prison.
For his courageous work, Mugisha has been honored by dozens of institutions including but not limited to receiving the: Rafto Prize 2011, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights award 2011, Recognition from United Nation Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, U.S. former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former Secretary of State John Kerry. In 2009 and 2014 he was named by Advocate magazine as one of the leading activists “under 40”. In 2013, he received The International Human Rights Film Award by Amnesty International, Human Rights Film Network and Cinema for Peace. He has Received Citations and proclamations by the city councils of New York City and Philadelphia. Mugisha’s heroic efforts were recognized in 2014 with a Nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2016 he was named among top 50 world leaders by Fortune magazine.