Monday, 22 August 2011

Launch of Foyle Gay Pride

This years launch of Foyle Gay Pride has just got under way and this year promises to be bigger and better.

Amongst this years events was the arrival of Ugandan born human rights activist, Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesra. Due to her activism there has been doubts over whether or not she would receive a visa to enter the UK.  Kasha is the founder and executive director of Freedom and Roam Uganda, a leading LGBT rights organization, and has campaigned tirelessly for human rights. She has appeared on national television and radio to call for LGBT rights and an end to homophobia. She has been physically attacked and has to move house regularly to escape harassment and threats to her life.

Last year, her name and photo were published by the notorious Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone, which campaigned for gay people to be hung. In January, her colleague David Kato was murdered not long after suing a paper that outed them both as gay. Police denied the killing was because of his sexuality, however homosexual acts are illegal in Uganda, and can be punished by long jail terms.

News has just broke that Kasha has been granted a visa and is on her way to Derry and the launch of Foyle Pride 2011.  Below is a statement issued earlier by the Foyle Gay Pride team.

Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesra, the 2011 winner of the prestigious Martin Ennals award for Human Rights has been denied a Visa to enter the UK. Kasha was due to open the Foyle Gay Pride festival in Derry on 24th August but this recent development has left her struggling to fulfil that promised commitment.

Despite travelling throughout the world and being recognised for her continued commitments for human rights in Uganda, the founder and Executive Director of Freedom and Roam Uganda, was refused entry into the UK over concerns over her financial status at home in Uganda, a query which has never arisen before, making the UK the only country in her international tour to deny this inspirational character entry.

Sha Gillespie, chairperson of Foyle Pride in L’Derry has expressed an overwhelming sense of disappointment at the Embassy’s decision. Last year saw the first gay pride parade on the streets of Derry and proved to be a great success with over 5000 people taking part in the parade and 6400 in the week long festival. This proved to be a huge step forward for the newly crowned inaugural UK city of culture 2013, as previous press reports had been focussed on homophobic attacks within the city.

 "Derry has changed and last year saw the visual representation of acceptance of the LGBTQ community within our society. As a city still evolving and dealing with the legacy of the past, Kasha’s message and story is of particular importance and relevance and inspirational for our wider community to hear.

Foyle Pride has invested heavily in bringing Kasha to Derry despite having a very limited budget and relying on donations and the support of local businesses, money and resources that will now be lost.
 I can’t understand why the UK is the only country to deny her entry and deny the opportunity for the people of Derry and Northern Ireland as a whole the chance to hear this inspirational woman speak. We intend to publish an online petition on our facebook page
and urge everyone to go and register their disgust. Gay Rights have come a long way in this country but actions like this demonstrate how far they need to come. Despite this setback, I and the rest of the Foyle Pride committee remain committed to putting on a fantastic festival and welcome everyone to attend."

For more info on this years events please visit: