A graduate of business school, Asan Juma is a leading voice in efforts to ensure equal opportunities for the LGBTI+ community in her native South Sudan.
Gays, lesbians and other LGBTI+ people in the war-torn country face criminalization, discrimination and stigmatization.
Salva Kiir Mayardit, the country’s president, even denied the existence of these people in the country. As a result, the community doesn’t have access to basic rights, such as healthcare, and has nowhere to turn for information about sexuality and sexual health. They therefore face hostility—and invisibility.
In 2016, to give a voice and a face to the mistreated and denied LGBTI+ community, Juma founded Access for All South Sudan (AFA). The community-led organization bravely sought to end the stigma against LGBTI+ people across the country through such activities as arranging friendly sports matches between female soccer teams and meeting with head coaches of the country’s female teams. AFA also offers career guidance to secondary school students.
In 2017, according to Asan, South Sudan officials cracked down on AFA. They arrested six employees, detaining them for three months. Officials allegedly froze their bank accounts and confiscated their furniture and valuable documents, such as their registration certificates.
One year later, in 2018, Asan and her colleagues fled the country, fearing they would be killed by the government. She is now in Kampala, Uganda, where she continues her work while seeking asylum.
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