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Turkish activist wins Kato Vision & Voice Award

in WORLD, 29/11/2012

The 2013 David Kato Vision & Voice Award has been awarded to Ali Erol: a leading lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) activist in Turkey. The award will be announced at the International Planned Parenthood Federation's 60th anniversary celebrations in South Africa.

Inspired by David Kato's work, the award recognizes those who strive to uphold sexual rights for LGBTI people. It is named after human rights activist David Kato, who was murdered in his home in Kampala, Uganda on 26 January 2011.

Ali Erol founded Kaos GL organization in 1994, the first of its kind in Turkey, and at a time when homosexuality was taboo and 'coming out' could lead to death threats. Ali Erol and Kaos GL are now at the forefront of the campaign for the reform of the Turkish constitution, pushing for a clause on non-discrimination of LGBTI people.

He said: "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."

"Homophobic hate chokes our voices and blockades our lives on a global scale by imprisoning us in invisibility. Against the policies of denial, which can turn homophobia into violence, we must establish local, regional and global networks and empower each other in the fight against stigma and hatred.

"I am proud to receive the David Kato Vision and Voice Award. It will make me stronger and give me more courage to continue to fight for liberation."

Since he began his work in LGBTI rights, Ali has had to fight against many forms of police and state pressure, including detentions, prosecution, police harassment and numerous court cases.

LGBTI people remain largely hidden in Turkey as they continue to be subjected to humiliation, exclusion, and violence. The Trans Murder Monitoring project shows that Turkey has by far the most reported murders of trans people in Europe, with 29 reported since January 2008.

Turkey is led by the religious conservative JDP government. In 2010, Turkey's minister for women, Selma Aliye Kavaf, triggered public debate and attracted criticism after declaring in a popular daily newspaper she believed homosexuality to be a 'biological disorder' that requires treatment. Kaos GL filed a criminal complaint against the minister for inciting hatred and hostility.

David's mother, Lydia Mulumba, will present the award to Ali along with Maurice Tomlinson, the inaugural recipient of the award.

"Although I lost a son, I am grateful that David's work carries on and that his name lives on within this award. I am also happy for the friendship I continue to receive from all those who knew David."

Kevin Osborne, Senior HIV Adviser at IPPF, said: "This year's call for nominations generated interest from over 120 countries. The overwhelming number of nominations received clearly indicates that LGBTI people are standing up for their sexual rights worldwide."

The award presentation will be streamed live during IPPF's 60th Anniversary Commemoration meeting at the Pan-African Parliament on 29 November 2012 at 14:20 local time (12:20 GMT) on www.ippf.org .

For further information contact Daniel McCartney, tel +44 20 7939 8308 email dmccartney@ippf.org

About the IPPF

Founded in 1952, The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) is both a service provider and an advocate of sexual and reproductive health and rights. The organisation is a worldwide network of 152 Member Associations active in over 170 countries. Learn more at www.ippf.org .

About the David Kato Vision and Voice Award

Inspired by David Kato's work, the award recognizes the leadership of individuals who strive to uphold the sexual rights for LGBTI people. The freedom to enjoy and express our sexuality is an integral facet of life, happiness and well-being. Yet, over 70 countries continue to criminalize same-sex sexual acts between consenting adults.

Stigma, discrimination and violence towards LGBTI people, and repressive laws that criminalize same sex consensual acts, undermine access to sexual health and HIV-related services and cause many to hide their same-sex relationships.

The award is coordinated by a steering committee with representatives from the Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF), Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), GIZ - Deutsche Gesellschaft fà r Internationale Zusammenarbeit, Herbert Smith LLP, and ILGA-Europe. More information at www.visionandvoiceaward.com .

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