DETROIT, MI — As Michigan prepares to potentially legalize gay marriage next week, Frank Mugisha, an LGBT rights activist from Uganda, says his country is about to make homosexuality a crime punishable by life in prison.
The anti-homosexuality bill, passed by the Ugandan Parliament in December and now awaiting the president’s signature, initially called for the death penalty.
Mugisha’s east African homeland, one of the poorest nations in the world, is a place of LGBT intolerance, where family members try and rape the gay out of their lesbian daughters, where communities pray for the "male demon" to leave female-to-male transgenders, where a man owning the "Sex in the City" DVD box set could warrant a government investigation and where being gay can get you killed/
David Kato, Mugisha’s openly gay friend and founder of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), which Mugisha now heads, was beat to death for his sexual preference in 2011.
Mugisha is touring the U.S. drumming up opposition to the Ugandan anti-gay law and recognizes that, upon returning to his native home, he could be imprisoned.
The 34-year-old spoke on a panel at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History in Detroit Thursday at an event sponsored by Freedom House, a Detroit-based organization that assists political refugees and human trafficking victims — an increasing number coming from Uganda — obtain asylum in the U.S.
"Right now … we are seeing an influx of people who are fleeing countries due to laws such as the one in Uganda," said Thomas "T.J." Rogers, case manager and program assistant for Freedom House. Freedom House, with funds to support 40 refugees, is near capacity.
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