Uganda activist Frank Mugisha: One of world's 'great leaders'

Frank Mugisha portrait in Fortune magazine.
Portrait of Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, `in Fortune magazine.

Fortune magazine included LGBTI human rights defender Frank Mugisha of Uganda in its 2017 list of the world’s greatest leaders.

Mugisha is executive director of the LGBTI rights group Sexual Minorities Uganda.

Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, speaks at the pride event before the police arrived. (Photo by David Robinson)
Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, speaks at Uganda’s 2012 Pride event before the police arrived. (Photo by David Robinson)

“Imagine functioning in a society that still criminalizes—and even debates the death penalty for—homosexual activity,” the article reads. “That is the world facing Frank Mugisha. The 37-year-old, who came out at 14, spoke out against the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which mandated life in prison for LGBT Ugandans, and he led the campaign that eventually led to the bill’s invalidation by the courts. More battles lie ahead for a leader of a community that faces open hostility.”

Fortune’s list seems deliberately non-traditional. It grants the No. 1 position to Theo Epstein, president for baseball operations at the Chicago Cubs, which won the World Series last year after 108 years without winning that title. The list puts philanthropist Melinda Gates at No. 4, but excludes her husband, Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates.

Mugisha is listed 44th in a list of 50 leaders, just behind No. 43, Marc Benioff, chief executive of the Salesforce software company, and just before No. 45, Dalia Grybauskaite, president of Lithuania.

Fortune states about its list:

“Our point isn’t to declare that, say, No. 7 on our list is “greater” than No. 9. The point is that great leaders can be anywhere—at the helm of a giant corporation, running a rural college, or in a cramped office exerting influence through sheer personal energy.”

Mugisha is one of three people originally from Africa who are honored on the list.

The other two are:

  • Strive Masiyiwa, formerly of Zimbabwe, now in London. He is the founder of the Econet Wireless Global telecommunications company founder.
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigerian author.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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