Just a few weeks after Out and Diamond Group Director Abbey Kiwanuka received recognition from the noSCARS Awards for his work in the struggle to eliminate HIV/AIDS within minority groups , the UK based LGBTI organization now has both its directors listed in the top 101 influential LGBTI people in Britain 2015.
Kiwanuka alongside co-director Edwin Sesange are listed at position twenty five on the list of people that continue to fight for diversity as well as raise visibility for minorities.
Out and Proud Diamond Group is a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex organization that previously operated under the umbrella of other organizations and grew into an independent organization. Previously with a handful of members from Uganda, the organization now boasts of about over a hundred members from Gabon, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Cameroon, Tanzania, Burundi and Jamaica.
Its core vision is to create an environment in which the freedom, rights and equality of LGBTI persons are guaranteed and to eliminate all discrimination based on sexuality and gender and identity.
The directors of the African LGBTI organisation Out and Proud Diamond Group Abbey Kiwanuka (winner of noSCARS 2015) and Edwin Sesange, have been listed as number 25 on the 16th annual Rainbow list that celebrates the 101 most influential lesbian, gay,bisexual, transgender and intersex people in Britain.
The 16th year edition is bigger, better and more inclusive than ever before. It is about pioneers, recognising and celebrating those who have paved the way for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) equality, but it also actively celebrates those who, in 2015, fought for recognition from the intersection of different cultures, religions, and identities. It celebrates those fighting adversity. It celebrates those actively working to raise visibility and change lives.
Congratulations to all who made the list and all the nominees who did not. You all inspire, change people’s lives and your efforts to make the World a better place are highly recognized and appreciated. We would like thank all those who nominated us, support and work with us to bring change to the persecuted, discriminated, prosecuted, tortured, denied access to medical services among others.
The list is published by Independent on Sunday which is one of the best newspapers in UK and well respected all over the World in partnership with Asda one of the most popular food store chains in the World. It took nine judges to decide who would appear on this year’s Rainbow List. The panel of Judges ranged from activists, politicians, actors, performers, artists and the co-director of a queer hairdressing salon.
Thousands of public nominations were received by email and by post, in the way of drawings, letters and even in the form of a hand-made photo album delivered to The Independent newspaper editor’s desk. It’s fair to say, the competition has never been tighter.
The duo’s inclusion on this list is not only recognition of their work, but a sign of recognition of a wider struggle of the African and other minority LGBTI groups. The group was started in 2011and run by courageous, charitable, committed, selfless and humanitarian LGBTI rights activists most of them fled their home countries due to the persecution, discrimination among others that they experienced. They have opened up in Netherlands and France at the same time working closely with other LGBTI grassroot groups in other countries.
OPDG highly recognizes that the equality for LGBTI people that is being achieved in some parts of the World like Britain cannot be taken for granted as equality for all LGBTI people.
Abbey and Edwin originate from a country that still uses colonial anti-gay laws to persecute, prosecute, discriminate, and torture its LGBTI citizens. Therefore they have dedicate their lives by using the international platform to campaign against these anti-gays laws and negative attitudes towards LGBTI community.
The organisation is aimed at challenging homophobia, transphobia, biphobia and any discrimination or injustices towards LGBTI people because of their sexuality or gender. OPDG campaigns against HIV and Mental health, the group identified that there is so much stigma attached to the above in relation to the LGBTI community with in black and other minority groups. The organisation is also supporting LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees.
Since the organisation was started, it has organised and participated in many peaceful demonstrations against many Anti-gay governments and individuals including, Russia, Lithuania, Jamaica, Gambia, Cameroon, Uganda, Nigeria, Dolce and Gabbana, the Commonwealth Countries among others. The organisation has also campaigned against abuses against detained LGBTI asylum seekers and other asylum seekers in the UK immigration detention centres.
The organisation has helped many LGBTI asylum seekers in the United Kingdom through getting them legal representation, supporting in immigration tribunals, organizing= social events, getting Doctors, Counsellors, accommodation, helping them to reconcile their sexuality and gender with their religion, creating a safer place for them to speak and interact with other members. Being a community organisation it is the first point of contact for many LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees in the United Kingdom
The organisation has visited many LGBTI asylum seekers in immigration detention centres across the United Kingdom. Through our work we have stopped many deportations of LGB asylum seekers from the United Kingdom. This has been done through working with our legal and other partners. Many of these survivals have won their asylum in the United Kingdom.
All the LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees in this organisation are being helped to fully integrate in the British community, through helping them to get jobs, education, being law abiding citizens among others.
The organisation has done many petitions both online and in paper form in order tobring justice and equality for LGBTI people, this has been very effective in bringing awareness and gathering support against these anti-gay Countries. Many LGBTI people in these Countries have felt the support that they get through the works of this organisation.
The organisation has written to Her Majesty the Queen of United Kingdom and head of the Commonwealth and the UK Prime Minister Hon David Cameron requesting them to raise the issue of decriminalisation of Homosexuality.
They have also written to the Secretary General of the Commonwealth to put the issue of decriminalisation of homosexuality on the agenda of the forth coming CHOGM 2015 meeting in Malta this month.
The group has organised HIV and Mental health workshops which have been fruitful, however more work is being needed with your support.
When this list began at the start of the millennium it was known as the Pink List. It highlighted those who were then brave enough to be public about their sexuality. There were only 50 people in that first list. Judge Phyll Opoku-Gyimah said: “I know that we had an eye for inclusion and fair heart while looking at equality, influence and grassroots activism.”