Julius Kaggwa

Ugandan activist, Julius Kaggwa, has spoken out about the perilous position of gay and lesbian people in his home country.

Kaggwa, who was in New York this week to receive the Human Rights First 2010 Human Rights Award, told reporters that “Homophobia is in fact a death sentence…”

Speaking about the horrific Anti-Homosexuality Bill recently considered by the Ugandan parliament, he added: “Even if you remove the death sentence from the bill, it’s still a death sentence” because LGBT people “are cut off from social life, are denied health services, don’t have access to treatments, and have no access to housing.”

His point was reinforced by this week’s international outcry about the Rolling Stone tabloid (unrelated to the US music publication) which outed a number of apparently gay and lesbian people and called for them to be hung.

Born and raised in Uganda, Kaggwa is the Director of Support Initiative for People with Atypical Sex Development (SIPD), a project working to promote human rights protection and support for children and people with intersex conditions.

He has also been a lead player in the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, a group that has been at the forefront of campaigning against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

“Homophobic legislation and violence against LGBTI individuals are on the rise in Uganda and elsewhere in Africa. Kaggwa’s work aims to fight this trend by promoting tolerance towards sexual minorities in Uganda and campaigning for the decriminalisation of homosexuality,” said Human Rights First.

“Despite constant threats on his safety, Kaggwa continues to promote the human rights for all Ugandans, including the LGBTI community.”

Kaggwa shared the prestigious Human Rights First award with Viktória Mohácsi, who has fought for the rights of Roma communities in Europe.

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