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Congratulations to Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 10/16/11
Last updated on: 10/17/11
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Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera. Image courtesy The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders.

Congratulations to Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera on receiving the Martin Ennals Human Rights Defenders Award on October 13, 2011 in Geneva, Switzerland. Nabagesera, leader of Freedom to Roam, a Ugandan lesbian group, is the first gay rights activist to receive the award, considered to be second in prestige only to that of the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Martin Ennals Human Rights Defender award is named after the first secretary-general of Amnesty International. The Ennals Foundation is supported by several European governments, including Switzerland, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Spain, and Sweden, as well as private organizations and individuals. The jury that chose Nabagesera was composed of representatives of ten leading human rights organizations.

Hans Thoolen, chairman of the Martin Ennals Foundation, described Nabagesera as "a leading light, an exceptional woman of a rare courage, fighting under death threat for human dignity."

The award was presented by Kyung-wha Kang, the Deputy High Commissioner of Human Rights, on behalf of Navanthelam Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights.

In accepting the award, Nabagesera, who has lived with unremitting threats of violence, asserted that "the struggle for human rights is one struggle and no human rights defender should be left to do this work alone. Courage is our virtue, and freedom is our goal." She emphasized that before she was a lesbian, she was a woman, and before she was a woman, she was a human, and that all people are entitled to human rights.

The announcement of the Martin Ennals Award to Nabagesera comes less than a month after fellow Ugandan activist Frank Mugisha received the Rafto Prize from the the Rafto Foundation, a Norwegian human rights organization dedicated to the promotion of intellectual, political, and economic freedom.

Both honors reflect the international concern for the plight of Ugandan glbtq people, who face discrimination, violence, and sometimes death, as in the case of David Kato, the Ugandan activist who was murdered in January. The hatred of gay people in Uganda is epitomized by the country's proposed "Kill the Gays Bill," which is believed to have been promoted by American Evangelical Christians.

Martin Ennals Award Ceremony 2011 - Kasha from True Heroes Films on Vimeo.

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