Ugandan LGBT activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera

Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, an Ugandan LGBT activist, has received the prestigious international Martin Ennals Laureate Award for Human Rights Defenders.

The award’s jury, which met in Geneva, selected Nabagesera for her work for LGBT rights and marginalised people in Uganda; a nation considering the legalised execution of gay and lesbian people.

Nabagesera is the founder and Executive Director of Freedom and Roam Uganda, a lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights organisation. She has had the courage to appear on national television in Uganda, issued press statements on behalf of the gay community and spoken on several radio stations.

In 2007 she was harassed at the World Social Forum in Nairobi and has, on many occasions afterwards, been hackled, threatened and even attacked by people for appearing in the media.

Nabagesera has been forced to move from house to house, afraid to stay too long in the same place. On 26 January this year, one of her colleagues, gay activist David Kato, was murdered following the publication of a “gay list” by the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone which called for the listed people’s hanging.

Nabagesera’s name was also included in the list.

The Chairman of the Jury of the MEA, Hans Thoolen, described the laureate as “an exceptional woman of a rare courage, fighting under death threat for human dignity and the rights of homosexuals and marginalised people in Africa”.

The jury said that through its award it hoped to highlight the discrimination of people based on gender or sexual orientation. The award ceremony will take place in Geneva late in the year.

The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA) is a collaboration among ten of the world’s leading human rights organisations, including: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, International Federation for Human Rights, World Organisation Against Torture, Front Line, International Commission of Jurists, German Diakonie, International Service for Human Rights and HURIDOCS.

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