Kushaba Moses Mworeko: International Sexual Freedom Advocate
Kushaba Moses Mworeko is no stranger to adversity. After losing both his parents and newborn sister to AIDS-related illness as a teenager in Uganda, Moses took it upon himself to raise his five younger siblings, eventually putting himself and his brothers through college in his home country. Despite being repeatedly harassed, his dedication, moral resolve, and religious faith helped him to successfully pursue a Master’s Degree at Uganda’s Christian University. It was here, while preparing for a career in Child and Maternal Health, that a snooping secretary uncovered a private email correspondence between Moses and a male friend, a discovery that resulted in the loss of his teaching position, as well as the escalation of suspicion, persecution, and threats of violence on the part of his fellow citizens in the virulently anti-gay cultural climate of Uganda.
Because of the repeated persecution he faced, Moses decided in October 2009 to seek asylum in the United States, refusing to return to his home country after attending an HIV health conference in Texas. After months spent continuing his work in international HIV and LGBT activism and winning the hearts and minds of an increasingly large circle of supports and friends, Moses’ initial application was denied in June 2010 by a judge at the Alexandria, Virginia, office of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, who cited “Material implausibility(ies), in light of country conditions and/or logic” of Moses’ case. A clerk handling Moses’ case clarified: “That mean things are not so bad in Uganda.” His asylum application is now under review again, and in the meantime he is emerging as one of the most important figures in the struggle for LGBT equality and global human rights.
At the February 3, 2010 American Prayer Hour held in protest of the National Prayer Breakfast, which invited anti-gay Ugandan delegates, Moses spoke out against the increasing entanglement of US evangelicals with militant anti-gay campaigns in his own country. He wore a paper grocery bag over his head to conceal his identity for fear of reprisals against friends and family. Later in the spring he appeared in a documentary on anti-gay politics in Uganda, this time anonymously backlit.
Last summer Moses decided to go public. In Will O’Bryan’s July 28, 2010 DC Metro Weekly article entitled “The Promised Land,” Moses bravely outed himself to an international audience, thrusting his story to prominence in activist circles and capturing the attention of media ranging from the American progressive blogosphere to sensationally anti-gay tabloids in his home country. He has called on African Anglican Bishops to condemn anti-homosexuality legislation and current state-sponsored criminal homophobia.
Between faith and fear, respect and ignorance, and the First and Third World, Kushaba Moses Mowreko now stands at a set of crossroads that define our age; his journey has been long, and it is far from over.