Burundi's leading gay activist has died. Georges Kanuma died April 14 from kidney failure and malaria complications. For many years the LGBT rights and HIV activist was "one of the few out gay men" in the small East African nation, reports Behind The Mask.
Théophile Habonimana adds, "I met him at a time when I was very depressed because of my sexual orientation and he taught me how to be courageous. It will be difficult for us to cope without him. He was our hero."
Kanuma's work was exacerbated by the state sponsored anti-gay terror campaign sweeping across East Africa. In 2009, Burundi enacted draconian new anti-gay legislation that criminalized homosexuality and made same-sex relations punishable by up to two years in prison. At that time, the nation's ruling CNDD-FDD party led several massive government-organized, anti-gay demonstrations to demand the criminalization of homosexuality. One of the March 2009 protests attracted 20,000 protesters.
Imagine what Kamuna's daily life must have been under those conditions. American gay life must seem like a picnic in comparison.