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Uganda: Gay activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera granted Martin Ennals award

Publication Date: 
May 4, 2011


Ugandan gay activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera has been given the prestigious Martin Ennals rights award.

The 10 organisations which make up the award jury said she was courageous and faced harassment because of her work. Homosexual acts are illegal in Uganda, and can be punished by long jail terms.

In January, her colleague David Kato was murdered not long after suing a paper that outed them both as gay. Police denied the killing was because of his sexuality.

Three months before the murder, Uganda's Rolling Stone newspaper published the photographs of several people it said were gay, including activist Mr Kato, with the headline "Hang them."

The name of Ms Nabagesera, the founder of gay rights organisation Freedom and Roam Uganda, also appeared on the list.

'Rare courage'

The Geneva-based award jury said Ms Nabagesera had appeared on national television and issued press statements on behalf of Uganda's gay community.

However, because of threats and harassment she now shifted "from house to house, afraid to stay long in the same place", their statement said.

"[She is] an exceptional woman of a rare courage, fighting under death threat for human dignity and the rights of homosexuals and marginalised people in Africa," jury chairman Hans Thoolen said.

In October 2009, an MP introduced a bill that proposed increasing the penalties in Uganda for homosexual acts from 14 years in prison to life.

It also proposed the death penalty for a new offence of "aggravated homosexuality" - defined as when one of the participants is a minor, HIV-positive, disabled or a "serial offender".

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill is yet to be formally debated by the Ugandan parliament.

The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders is named after the late British lawyer who became the first head of the human rights organisation Amnesty International.

Source: BBC

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