Honors for African LGBTI heroes at London Pride

Out and Proud Diamond Group honored African LGBTI heroes during London Pride. (Photo courtesy of Out and Proud Diamond Group)
Out and Proud Diamond Group honors African LGBTI heroes during London Pride. (Photo courtesy of Out and Proud Diamond Group)

Press release, modestly edited:

London Pride 2015

The African LGBTI organisation Out and Proud Diamond Group celebrated African LGBTI Heroes during London Pride 2015.

The group honored people who have stood up against anti-gay environments and regimes in Africa. Some of these heroes lost their lives during the struggle to liberate us and others against the injustices, discrimination, persecution, inequalities among others. Many of these heroes are still carrying on with the struggle for liberation amidst direct threats to their lives.

Tony Kitara, a Ugandan LGBTI activist with  Out and Proud Diamond Group, said, ‘I feel privileged and humbled to honour my heroes. These people started the journey for liberation. It is our duty to finish it. They don’t get much appreciation and recognition like other heroes in Africa, but London has given us this opportunity to honour them.”

Out and Proud Diamond Group honors African LGBTI heroes David Kato and John (Long Jones) Wambere during London Pride. (Photo courtesy of Out and Proud Diamond Group)
Out and Proud Diamond Group honors African LGBTI heroes David Kato and John (Long Jones) Wambere during London Pride. (Photo courtesy of Out and Proud Diamond Group)

Christine Amenya, a member of Out and Proud Diamond, said, “We are calling upon our governments in Africa to give us liberation such that we can honour these heroes on our continent as well. These people deserve more than we can do for their sacrifices for freedom of all African LGBTI people.”

The group’s director, Edwin Sesange, said, “We hope our message of honouring these heroes will be registered in people’s hearts and shed more light on the ongoing persecution of LGBTI people in Africa.

“We are calling upon all other Prides to continue remembering those who have stood up before us in order to pave the way for us. ”

Among those celebrated were:

David Kato Kisule (1964 – 26 January 2011) was a Ugandan teacher and LGBT rights activist, considered a father of Uganda’s gay rights movement and described as “Uganda’s first openly gay man.” He served as advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG).

Eric Lembembe was murdered in Cameroon in 2013 for his work toward liberating LGBTI Africans. Lembembe was among the most prominent activists in one of Africa’s most hostile countries for sexual minorities. First as a journalist and later as executive director of CAMFAIDS, a Yaounde-based human rights organization, he documented violence, blackmail and arrests targeting members of Cameroon’s gay community. He was also a regular contributor to the Erasing 76 Crimes blog, which focuses on countries where homosexuality is illegal, and he wrote several chapters of a book released in 2013 on the global gay rights movement titled “From Wrongs to Gay Rights.”

Kasha Nabagesera and  Pepe Julian Onziema are prominent Ugandan LGBTI activists.

Alice Nkom , co-fondateur de l'Association pour défendre les homosexuels ( ADEFHO ) au Cameroun (Photo gracieuseté de ChangingAttitude.org.uk ) Avocat camerounais Alice Nkom a été menacé de violence en raison de sa défense juridique des clients LGBT.
Alice Nkom, co-founder of the Association to Defend Homosexuals (ADEFHO) in Cameroon (Photo courtesy of ChangingAttitude.org.uk)

Alice Nkom is a Cameroonian lawyer well known for her advocacy of decriminalization of homosexuality in Cameroon. She studied law in Toulouse and has been a lawyer in Douala since 1969. At the age of 24, she was the first black woman called to the bar in Cameroon.

Dr. Frank Mugisha is a Ugandan LGBT advocate who has won the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award and Thorolf Rafto Memorial Prize for his activism.

Denis Nzioka is a sexual and gender minorities activist, consultant, researcher and journalist. His focus is on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer (LGBTIQ) communities as well as sex workers in Kenya and Africa.

Paul Kasonkomona
Paul Kasonkomona

A Zambian court has acquitted a human rights activist on charges of promoting homosexuality, in a ruling hailed as a boost for gay rights in Africa. Paul Kasonkomona was charged with “soliciting for immoral purposes” after arguing for gay rights on a TV show in April 2013.

Rashidi Williams, Nigerian LGBTI activists, spoke to BBC News about his experience of being an openly gay man in Nigeria.

John Abdallah Wambere, popularly known as Long Jones, is a Ugandan LGBTI activist.

Val Kalende is one of the founding members of Sexual Minorities Uganda.

Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) is well known for introducing a legislation allowing same-sex marriage in South Africa and spoke out against hatred towards LGBTI people.

Bishop Christopher Senyonjo
Bishop Christopher Senyonjo of Uganda, whose acceptance of LGBT people led to his ouster from the Church of Uganda.

Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, an outspoken Anglican bishop in Uganda, is well known for his support towards LGBTI people in Uganda and Africa at large.

Aba Taylor’s work helping LGBT Ghanians was highlighted in a 2012 documentary she directed, “Coming to America.”

Simon Nkoli was one of the first prominent black gay rights activists in South Africa. He also served as a leader of the anti-apartheid movement.

Jabulani Chen Pereira uses visual media in activism through their organization, Iranti-Org. Pereira identifies as gender queer, using the gender pronoun “they” rather than “he” or “she.”

Every scar on Mary Muthui’s head and body tell a story of the harsh persecution that gay Kenyans face every day. Mary is an LGBT activist in the east African country, and one of very few lesbians to come out in the media. Her work has made her a constant presence in the press – a positive for the movement, but something for which she, her girlfriend and her 12-year-old son have suffered dearly.

Joël Gustave Nana Ngongang (born 1982), frequently known as Joel Nana, is a leading African LGBT human rights advocate and HIV/AIDS activist. Nana’s career as a human rights advocate has spanned numerous African countries, including Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa, in addition to his native Cameroon.

FannyAnn_Eddy (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
Fannyann Eddy (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Fannyann Viola Eddy (1974–2004) was an activist for lesbian and gay rights in her native Sierra Leone and throughout Africa. In 2002, she founded the Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association, the first of its kind in Sierra Leone. She travelled widely, addressing the United Nations and other international groups. In April 2004, she advocated the passing of the Brazilian Resolution at the UN in Geneva.

Eddy was murdered on September 29, 2004, when a group of at least three men broke into the office of the Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association in central Freetown, gang-raped her, stabbed her, and eventually broke her neck.

Edwin Cameron (born 15 February 1953 in Pretoria) is a judge on the Constitutional Court of South Africa. He is well known for his HIV/AIDS and gay-rights activism and was hailed by Nelson Mandela as “one of South Africa’s new heroes.”

Leading Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina has come out to say he is gay, making him one of the most high-profile Africans to do so.

The Rev. Canon Kapya Kaoma, an Episcopal priest from Zambia and a project director at Political Research Associates in Massachusetts, discusses the politics of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Law.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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