Ugandan gay activist visits Canada with message for government

Frank Mugisha calls on feds to consult with Ugandan groups before making statements

Frank Mugisha, the executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), walks a tight rope fighting for gay rights in his home country. He faces persecution, violence and possible death.

And Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird may have made things more difficult for Uganda’s gay rights activists when he called out the speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, at a conference in Quebec City in 2012.

Baird criticized Uganda’s plans to introduce what has been called the “Kill the Gays” bill. Kadaga responded by saying Baird is guilty of “arrogance.”

“The problem we have with public statements is that we get the problems – the people on the ground – because we are scapegoated,” Mugisha says.

He instead urges diplomats to consult with groups such as SMUG that have a better sense of what’s happening on the ground and how statements will be received.

Below is a clip from Xtra‘s interview with Mugisha. Go to for further coverage from Uganda.

Mugisha is in Toronto attending the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network’s fifth Symposium on HIV, Law & Human Rights, taking place Thursday, June 13 and Friday, June 14.

In the symposium’s keynote event, “A Conversation with Frank Mugisha,” Mugisha will be interviewed by the CBC’s Ron Charles at the Toronto Reference Library, Thursday, June 13 at 7pm. This is a free event, but registration is required.

Mugisha then travels to Ottawa on June 17 for a meet-and-greet event that includes a conversation with the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network executive director Richard Elliott.

On occasion, the number of editors and other staff who contribute to a story gets a little unwieldy to give a byline to everyone. That’s when we use “Xtra Staff” in place of the usual contributor info. If you would like more information on who contributed to a particular story, please contact us here.

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