Freedom and Roam Uganda

Two years ago we had the opportunity to get to know Kasha N. Jacqueline and the organization she founded, Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG), an organization that works to defend the civil rights of LGBT people in Uganda. Fortunately, from that meeting two years ago, Agape, Kasha, and FARUG have been able to continue to deepen and develop a collaboration that is very much worth sharing. With this short internet pubblication, we would like to share in part the impressive and admirable work done by Kasha and her colleagues at FARUG and welcome others to witness their courage and determination.

by Kasha N. Jacqueline

Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) is a human rights organization that addresses discrimination against lesbian,bisexual, transgender, intersex (LBTI) women in Uganda.

FARUG was founded in 2003 by Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, a Ugandan lesbian advocate and the group’s current executive director with 2 other friends.

After witnessing and experiencing the harassment, discrimination and violence Ugandan women face because of their gender identity or sexual orientation,FARUG was set up to advocate on their behalf. Today FARUG identifies as the only local organization fully dedicated to LBTI issues in Uganda.

FARUG’s work includes raising awareness throughout the country about LBTI women, sexual and reproductive health, homophobia, and transphobia; increasing visibility in the media; lobbying locally, regionally and internationally; conducting skills and knowledge-sharing workshops, seminars and conferences; and challenging what the group sees as anti-LGBTI beliefs and stigma on a day-to-day basis.

FARUG has also co founded and works closely with Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), an umbrella LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) advocacy organization, to highlight discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Ugandans.

In response to an article in the Ugandan newspaper Rolling Stone that published photographs of gay and lesbian Ugandans under the headline “Hang Them,” Kasha and other members of SMUG whose faces appeared in the paper filed a petition to the High Court seeking to end circulation of the article. The petition was granted on November 2, 2010, effectively ruling for the end of the publication. They later won the court case o 3rd January 2011, however 2 weeks later one of the applicants and colleague David Kato was murdered in his house on 26th January.

For two years now FARUG and other civil society organizations in Uganda have been fighting the introduction of the Anti Homosexuality Bill in the Ugandan Parliament in 2009 which proposes Death penalty for homosexual conduct,3 yrs jail terms for those who fail to report homosexuals to the authorities among others.

Early in 2012 the Anti Homosexuality Bill was reintroduced in the Parliament and a week later an LGBT conference organized by FARUG was closed down by the country’s Ethics and Integrity Minister Rev.Simon Lokodo who also ordered the arrest of the group’s Leader Kasha Jacqueline. FARUG and SMUG have since filed a case against the Minister and the Government. The court hearing will start on the 25th of June 2012 at the High Court in Kampala, Uganda.

Since 2010 FARUG has been in Partnership with Agape in Turin,Italy where they have participated in a number of International camps.

FARUG has about 110 members.

In May 2011, FARUG’s executive director Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera was awarded the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders for her advocacy.