More about Victor Mukasa

Victor is a trans person, human rights defender, consultant, and a founding director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG).

Victor Mukasa was one of the brains behind and on the frontline of the formation of the Ugandan LGBTIQ+ movement. 

In 2005, local police raided Victor’s home without a search warrant and confiscated LGBTIQ+ related documents. Victor and a fellow activist, Yvonne Oyoo, were arrested and detained by the police. At the time of the raid, the mainstream press in Uganda, the Ugandan government, and many AIDS activists articulated homophobic viewpoints. Following the raid, Mukasa publicly declared his intent to sue the Ugandan government for violation of his and his colleague’s human rights. When he did, Mukasa started getting threats from government officials to withdraw the case. He went into hiding within Uganda with the help of Amnesty International and several other regional and international human rights organisations. While in hiding, he set up a legal team that later represented him and Oyoo in the civil suit, Victor Mukasa and Yvonne Oyoo vs. Attorney General of Uganda. As Mukasa waited for court hearings to begin, he fled to South Africa, where he joined the Africa team of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) as a researcher on East Africa. In 2007, he returned to Uganda and held a press conference on LGBTIQ+ rights, supported by individuals who covered their faces with masks. Eventually, Uganda’s High Court sided with Mukasa and Oyoo, and ruled that the country’s human rights laws extend to all citizens, including the LGBTIQ+ community.

On the topic of autonomous gender identity and expression Victor is a leader too. In around 2002, Victor claimed an identity as a Transgender Lesbian, saying that “yes, I am both a lesbian as I am romantically and otherwise with women, but I am also Transgender as I do not feel like a woman”. In those early years of trans visibility across African countries, persons who identified outside of the heterosexual or lesbian and gay boxes struggled creatively to find meaningful ways to self-assign identity. Within the mainstream LGBTIQ+ movement at the time, Victor faced a lot of criticism as “you cannot be both a Lesbian and Transgender, you have to choose”. Victor did not settle on choosing and refused to give in to any rules. It was during this time that Victor also chose the pronoun “che”, as the usual he/she binary was not what Victor felt comfortable with. In all senses Victor was a trailblazer on the African continent, and with his gender identity, self-assigned descriptions and pronouns, Victor was a leader, never a follower. This was all before the boom of social media, so Victor paved and led the way for the LGBTIQ+ movement in Uganda, and in Africa, with his authentic selfhood.

“Uncle Vic”, as Victor is lovingly known by the larger LGBTIQ+ community in Uganda, and later on throughout other countries on the continent, was also the person who initiated and assigned the name “Mama Trans” to Liesl Theron, as he said at the time “Liesl, you took many trans kids under your wing, you were there for all of your youngsters”. 

Mukasa has worked as a human rights defender, consultant, and a founding director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) (2004-2007). He has also served in varying capacities with the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (EHAHRDN), Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG), Trans Support Initiative, Uganda (TSI-Ug), and the Pan African e-networks AfricanSolidarity and Trans Africa. Mukasa is the current executive director of Kuchu Diaspora Alliance-USA (KDA-USA).

Mukasa has also served as a board member for Gender DynamiX (South Africa), Behind the Mask (South Africa), Coalition of African Lesbians (Pan African), and the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA). He was also project coordinator for the Human Rights Defenders Project at the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL). Mukasa spearheaded the Nairobi Trans* Declaration in 2007, and the first-ever Pan African Transgender workshop supported by IGLHRC. The initiative led to the formation of several transgender organisations in Africa, as well as the Proudly Transgender and African project.

Even after he relocated to the USA after attacks and threats towards him and his family, he has never given up on the fight for the rights and freedom of LGBTIQ+ persons in Uganda and Africa. He founded KDA-USA, a human rights organisation, with LGBTIQ+ activists in February 2014, to support refugees and to amplify the collective voice of human rights struggles back home in Africa. He is the founder and coordinator of The Victor Mukasa Show (TVMS), a consultant and an international advisor on African LGBTI issues. Victor is currently leading international advocacy efforts for the safety and protection of LGBTIQ+ refugees in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya.