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The jury of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA), meeting in Geneva last week, selected Ugandan gay rights activist, Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, as the laureate for her work for gay rights and marginalised people in Uganda.

Nabagesera is the founder and executive director of Freedom and Roam Uganda, a lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights organization. According to a press statement issued by Amnesty International, the jury noted that Nabagesera, a lesbian, has had the courage to appear on national television in Uganda, has 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 on many occasions afterwards, she has been heckled, threatened and even attacked by people for appearing in the media to defend her cause. Since then, she has been shifting from house to house, afraid to stay long in the same place.

The chairman of the jury of the MEA, Hans Thoolen, describes 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”.

With this award, the jury sought to underline its position against the discrimination of people based on gender or sexual orientation. The ceremony of the Martin Ennals Award will take place in the Victoria Hall of Geneva late in the year.

The main award of the human rights movement, the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders is a unique collaboration among ten of the world’s leading human rights organizations to give protection to human rights defenders worldwide.

The jury is composed of the following NGOs: 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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