human rights first: Human Rights Defenders Combating Discrimination to Receive 2010 Honors

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HUMAN Rights First will present its 2010 Human Rights Award to a renowned Hungarian advocate for the rights of the Roma people in Europe and a Ugandan activist on the front lines of defeating a draconian anti-homosexuality bill there. The group will honor this year’s recipients, Julius Kaggwa and Viktória Mohácsi, at its annual award dinner in New York City on Thursday, Oct. 21.

“Julius and Viktória are courageous leaders in the fight against discrimination and hate crimes in their own societies,” said Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino. “Human Rights First is pleased to honor these activists who—at great personal risk—stand up for the rights of those targeted for discrimination and abuse, Julius in Africa and Viktória in Europe. LGBTI persons and the Roma face prejudices that often are masked as socially acceptable in both parts of the world. In reality, such prejudices are at the root of widespread discrimination, marginalization, and outright violence. Despite death threats and ongoing danger to their own well-being, these two human rights advocates persevere in the struggle for equal opportunity and equal treatment for all. We draw strength from their resolve and their example. We are privileged to work with them and to honor their courage and achievements with this award.” …

Born and raised in Uganda, Kaggwa has long advocated for the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people in Uganda and elsewhere in Africa. He is the Director of Support Initiative for People with Atypical Sex Development (SIPD), a project working to promote human rights protection and holistic support for children and people with intersex conditions. He has also been a lead player of the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, a group that is at the forefront of domestic campaigning against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill recently tabled before the Ugandan parliament.

Homophobic legislation and violence against LGBTI individuals are on the rise in Uganda and elsewhere in Africa. Kaggwa’s work aims to fight this trend by promoting tolerance towards sexual minorities in Uganda and campaigning for the decriminalization of homosexuality. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill aims to criminalize all homosexual acts, making it – in some cases – punishable by death. The legislation would also stifle any activism in support of the LGBTI community. Though Kaggwa faces ongoing harassment and personal danger linked to his work against the bill, his fight to defeat it and to protect the human rights of all Ugandas, including LGBTI Ugandans, goes on. …

Editorial comment:

JULIUS Kaggwa is also a member of OII – Organisation Internationale des Intersexués.

Human rights first: Human Rights Defenders Combating Discrimination to Receive 2010 Honors