Frank Mugisha

Executive Director

Sexual Minorities Uganda

Ugandan gay rights activist was born in a suburb of Kampala. Raised in a strict Catholic family, he came out at age 14. Although his coming out estranged him from some family members, other friends and family have continued to support him. To come out in Uganda is to subject your life to great risk. In a 2011 NYT op-ed story, Mugisha said “From the time I was old enough to have romantic feelings, I knew I was gay, but we weren’t supposed to speak of such things." In Uganda, you not only risk the possibility of bullying and beatings, you risk imprisonment, and put your life at risk as well. During his undergraduate studies at University, Frank founded Icebreakers Uganda in 2004, an organization created as a support network for LGBT 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 that consists of Eighteen  groups, including the first and only LGBT health center in Uganda. Frank 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. He has done so by leading the petition of the 2009 Anti-Homosexuality Bill. He has also championed legal efforts against Scott Lively in U.S. District Court 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 - just for being who they are. And Frank knows what's at stake. 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 : The Rafto Prize 2011, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights award 2011 ,  Recognized by the  United Nation’s Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, United States former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and 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 received The International Human Rights Film Award by Amnesty International, Human Rights Film Network and Cinema for Peace,  In 2012 received the James Earl Hardy Legendary Award And 2011, received Homos hero’s award by the gay and lesbian foundation,

and  in 2012, he  received Special mention by  Black Entertainment Television (BET) awards.  He has Received Citations and proclamations by the city councils of New York City and Philadelphia.  His heroic efforts were recognized in 2014 with a Nomination for the Noble Peace Prize.  He was listed among the 10 most global influential people by Power #10 in 2014, and received the Jolt Humanitarian award 2014 from Riverdale Country School in New York City, where he graces a wall of fame and a building name.   In 2012, Mugisha was named to the “Pink List” of most influential international people by the UK’s Independent Magazine, alongside Apple CEO Tim Cook, Hip Hop Rapper Frank Ocean and CCN News Anchor Anderson Copper.  In 2016 he was named among top 50 world leaders by Fortune magazine.