The Steering Committee of the David Kato Vision & Voice Award announced today that the Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) has been selected to serve as the next Secretariat of the prestigious international award, which recognizes leaders who work to uphold the sexual rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people around the world. The Secretariat moves to the MSMGF from the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), which helped establish the award and served as its Secretariat since the award’s inception in 2011.
“The leadership of IPPF has been instrumental in the success of the David Kato Award and its work to further David’s vision of a world where LGBTI people can live free of violence, stigma, and discrimination,” said MSMGF Executive Director Dr. George Ayala. “The MSMGF is honored to have the opportunity to continue support for this important initiative.”
The David Kato Award was founded in commemoration of the life and work of renowned Ugandan human rights activist David Kato, who was tragically murdered at his home in Kampala in January 2011. David Kato campaigned tirelessly for human rights throughout his career, with special attention to the rights of LGBTI people across Africa.
Awarded annually, the David Kato Award is presented to an individual who demonstrates courage and outstanding leadership in advocating for the sexual rights of LGBTI individuals, particularly in challenging circumstances and unsupportive policy environments where LGBTI people face rejection, marginalization, isolation, and persecution.
Last year, Jamaican activist Maurice Tomlinson became the first person to receive the award after its establishment, in honor of more than a decade of LGBTI and HIV activism in Jamaica.
“The award has helped me achieve one of my dreams of carrying out LGBT sensitivity training for Caribbean police,” said Mr. Tomlinson. “Winning the David Kato Award has given me access on a global scale. You cannot underestimate its importance: it opens doors which would otherwise remain firmly shut.”
Most recently, the David Kato Award was awarded to Ali Erol in recognition of his work to fight stigma and discrimination in Turkey over the past 20 years. Mr. Erol founded the Turkish campaigning organization Kaos GL in 1994 and is now at the forefront of a campaign to reform the Turkish constitution.
“I am proud to receive the David Kato Vision and Voice Award,” said Mr. Erol. “Receiving the award makes me stronger, makes me braver, and gives me more courage to continue with the work I do. I made the choice to commit my life to this struggle, and since then I’ve remained committed to this choice despite all the threats and difficulties.”
The call for nominations for the 2013 award generated more than 150 nominations from over 120 countries. The final shortlist of five nominees included Aung Myo Min from Burma, Diane Marie Rodríguez Zambrano from Ecuador, Donny Reyes from Honduras, and Pepe Julian Onziema from Uganda. The call for nominations for the 2014 award will be launched later this year.
“The MSMGF is inspired to continue this work to honor David Kato’s legacy,” said Dr. Ayala. “While much more remains to be done toward ensuring health and human rights for all LGBTI people, there are so many examples of positive change happening right now. Recognizing this important work gives us hope, and it reminds us that the realization of these rights is possible no matter how daunting the challenges.”
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The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) is an expanding network of AIDS organizations, MSM networks, and advocates committed to ensuring robust coverage of and equitable access to effective HIV prevention, care, treatment, and support services tailored to the needs of gay men and other MSM.