Galz Director Chesterfield Samba
Galz, Zimbabwe’s LGBT rights organisation, has been honoured with the prestigious Felipa de Souza award.
The Harare-based group received the award on 28 September at a ceremony in New York City to mark the 25th anniversary of Outright Action International, formerly known as the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
Galz is, coincidentally, also marking its 25th anniversary this year.
The Felipa Award honours the work of LGBTI activists from around the world. It embodies the spirit of Felipa de Souza, who endured persecution and brutality after proudly declaring her intimacy with a woman during a 16th Century inquisition trial in Brazil.
Founded in 1990, Galz has been subjected to ongoing official harassment and intimidation, including police raids on its offices, arrests and beatings of its members and various legal battles.
Gay sex and public affection are illegal in Zimbabwe, with penalties of up to three years in jail. Same-sex marriage is also illegal, as entrenched in the country’s Constitution.
The award was presented to Galz Director, Chesterfield Samba.
“Human rights organisations should never remain inert, even in the face of apparent demoralising failure to achieve anything positive. They need to be strong, refuse to capitulate but instead espouse a culture of hope,” said Samba after receiving the award.
He thanked all those in Zimbabwe, Africa and the international community who have given Galz support in its 25 years of existence.
Galz has the distinction of being the only organisation to have won the Felipa Award twice, after first receiving the honour in 2005.