A coalition of over 40 human rights organizations defending Uganda’s homosexual rights has won this year’s 2011 Human Rights Defenders Award from the US State Department.
Uganda’s Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law was honoured for effectively defending the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals, often at great personal risk.
The statement said, “The Coalition, which is comprised of 40 Ugandan NGOs, has successfully defended the rights of LGBT individuals in Ugandan courts, sparked public dialogue on LGBT rights in Uganda, and challenged widespread misperceptions and prejudices. The Coalition’s structure, effectiveness, and engagement with Ugandan civil society, government officials, and the Ugandan public provides a model for other human rights activists around the world.”
The coalition has also continually opposed the unfair Anti Homosexuality Bill 2009 that seeks a death penalty for Ugandan gays and other policies and laws that are unfair to minority groups.
Adrian Jjuko, a former coordinator of the coalition at the height of the AHB said in his Facebook status on receipt of the news, “We are very proud of this recognition.”
A press statement issued on May 18, 2012 on the official State Department website said the award to the coalition is shared with Ales Byalyatski, a jailed Belarus human rights defender.
The award honours “individuals or non-governmental organizations that show exceptional valour and leadership in advocating the protection of human rights and democracy in the face of government repression.”
Byalyatski is the founder of the banned Vyasna (spring) human rights organization, which has monitored and reported on Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s ongoing crackdown on dissent.
In late 2011 he was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison on tax-evasion charges, which the European Union and United States condemned as politically motivated.
In December 2011, the US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called on world leaders for the first time to stop discrimination against gays and lesbians.
The United States stands with these and all human rights defenders and civil society activists who work hard every day, in every part of the world, to make real the promise of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.