Ugandan activist joins human rights commission

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A leading advocate for LGBT rights in Africa has joined the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC).

Victor Juliet Mukasa is well-known internationally for her activism in her home country of Uganda in the face of state opression.

She is to become IGLHRC’s new Research and Policy Associate for the Horn, East, and Central Africa.

There have been a series of government-backed attacks on the Ugandan lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the last few years.

In 2005 Ms Mukasa’s house was raided by police in the middle of the night by local government officials who seized documents and other material.

Another lesbian activist, Yvonne Oyoo, a Kenyan student who was in Juliet’s house on the night of the raid, was arrested and detained by local government officials and then taken to a police station.

Both women are suing the government over their treatment.

In August gay rights activists in Uganda spoke out about the prejudice they face in the country.

In a show of defiance and bravery, around 30 people gave a press conference, the first by LGBT activists, drawing attention to the state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia they face every day.

Some of the activists wore masks for fear of being identified, while others shocked journalists by outlining the brutality they had faced at the hands of police.

Ugandan law outlaws homosexuality as “against the order of nature.”

Ms Mukasa is a co-founder and the president emeritus of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and a founding member of several Ugandan rights groups, including East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (EHAHRDN) (2005), Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) (2002), and the Pan African Group African Solidarity (2006).

“Victor is one of the most respected human rights activists in Africa,” said Cary Alan Johnson, IGLHRC Senior Specialist for Africa, “and will greatly increase our capacity to respond to human rights violations in the Horn, East and Central Africa. Her experience, commitment, and courage are unique.”

Victor will be based in IGLHRC’s Africa regional office in Johannesburg, South Africa.