Gay Ugandan activist wins Sweden's 'Alternative Nobel Prize'

Thu Oct 1, 2015 2:01pm EDT
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By Katy Migiro

NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Ugandan activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, who has been beaten, threatened and arrested for her LGBT campaign work, has won Sweden's Right Livelihood Award, also known as the 'Alternative Nobel Prize', the award's foundation said on Thursday.

The 35-year-old has successfully used legal avenues to push for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rights in Uganda, where homosexuality is illegal, as well as staging the east African nation's first Gay Pride event.

"Nabagesera is one of the most courageous and outspoken human rights activists in Africa," the Right Livelihood Award said on its website.

The awards, founded in 1980 and often referred to as Alternative Nobel Prizes, are presented annually in the Swedish parliament.

Described as the founding mother of the LGBT movement in Uganda, the dreadlocked Nabagesera appeared on the cover of Time magazine in June, wearing a three-piece suit and baseball cap.

"Even if, at home, my work is regarded as immoral and criminal, at least there are other people out there who appreciate the efforts," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from the Ugandan capital, Kampala.

Harassment of sexual and gender minorities is increasing in Uganda, driven by politicians, religious leaders and the media, activists say.

A law passed in 2014 punished gay sex with long prison terms and imposed a life sentence for "aggravated homosexuality", which referred to HIV-positive gay people having sex. It was later overturned on a technicality.   Continued...

Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Tony de Brum (top L), Ugandan Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera (top R), Canadian Sheila Watt-Cloutier (bottom L) and Italian Gino Strada are seen in these undated handout photos released by TT News Agency. Tony de Brum and the People of the Marshall Islands, Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera and Gino Strade / EMERGENCY are the Right Livelihood Award laureates of 2015.  REUTERS/Tobias Boley/Stephen Lowe/Claudio Testa/TT News Agency