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Ugandan LGBTI wins award in UK

Abbey Kiwanuka Ugandan refugee in the United Kingdom and the Chief Executive of the African LGBTI organisation Out and Proud Diamond Group wins an award for his work towards eliminating the stigma attached to HIV and the LGBTI community.

11212746_1693446600870227_1772722796488723787_nThe noSCARS awards 2015 were organised by NAZ and held at the prestigious Mansion House in London. The MSM of the year Award recognizes programmes which build the sexual health knowledge and empower BAME MSM. The award was presented by the legendary Human rights Campaigner Peter Tatchell.

The event was graced by many including Barones Liz Baker, Caroline Nokes MP, His Excellency the Ambassador of Colombia to the United Kingdom Mr Nestor Osorio, Andy Slaughter MP for Hammersmith in London, The Royal Highness Queen Naa Tsotsoo Soyoo I (Queen – Ga tribe in Accra, Ghana],Gillian Joseph news anchor on Sky TV, Professor Anthony Kessel of Public health England among others.

Abbey is originally from Uganda and currently resides in the UK. He is a former student at Westminster Kingsway College were he did Social work, Middlesex University (International Development) and Utrecht University where he did Political leadership and Human Rights.

After going through a difficult time in Uganda because of his sexuality including torture, Abbey dedicated his life to campaigning against anti-gay laws, persecution, discrimination of LGBTI people and challenging the stigma attached to HIV. In 2011 together with other activists Abbey formed the African LGBTI organisation Out and Proud Diamond Proud. The group now operates in other European Countries like Netherlands and France. The group works with other grass-root groups in Africa.

The group campaigns so much for the LGBTI Africans to access sexual health services in Anti-gay nations. The group is launching a campaign called
Let’s Talk! Stop HIV and the stigma, this campaign, that seeks to reduce new HIV infections among LGBT by encouraging open discussions about a range of HIV prevention strategies and related sexual health issues between sex partners. This campaign has seen some success among the BAME LGBTI communities that the group works with in the United Kingdom

The Chief executive of NAZ Miss Marion Wadiba said tonight we celebrate the passion and tenacity of organisations and individuals who despite unacceptable but widely experienced circumstances, never get tired of providing excellent sexual health services to BAME communities and empowering BAME LGBTI communities.

Peter Tatchell, the Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, said:

“Abbey’s activism is extraordinary and tireless. He does awesome work, not only for African LGBTI people and issues, but in support of the wider LGBTI struggle in the UK and worldwide. He represents one of the most active campaign groups in Britain, the African LGBTI Out and Proud Diamond Group, which has helped countless LGBTI refugees. Abbey is a much-deserved winner. I salute him and his inspiring organisation.”

Edwin Sesange Director OPDG said it is very important that we address the stigma attached to HIV and LGBTI community. Our work of eliminating HIV cannot be fullfilled if LGBTI people are still being denied services, therefore we should work hard to eliminate anti-gay laws as well. Abbey deserves to win this award for his work that benefits many

Abbey Kiwanuka, i would like to thank all our supporter and allies. I come from a continent where LGBT people in most countries are denied access to sexual health in the mainstream medical centres. This is because of the prevailing anti-gay laws and the stigma attached to HIV and LGBTI community. We have also seen government like Uganda closing closing some HIV centres alleging that they are promoting homosexuality. Other medical professionals fear to offer sexual health services to LGBTI people in fear of being labelled as promoters of homosexuality.

It’s a continent where many LGBTIs people are constantly blamed for HIV cases. However it is well known that HIV does not only affect LGBTI people but we take the biggest blame hence being denied vital services.

It’s known that in BAME communities here in Britain, there is still stigma and lack of knowledge towards HIV, so when LGBTs come here, for example, they spend most of their time in their communities for support and when they hear HIV African rhetoric, they choose not to pay attention to their health status. People always ask; if I test and find out that I am positive, what is going happen next…??? And because of such questions, that’s why we started a campaign called “Break the Silence!, Stop HIV, aimed to raise awareness of HIV by breaking the myth about HIV, in our communities.

We have so far seen some changes i.e. on 17 October 2015, with the support of NAZ, we held an HIV workshop but at the end of the workshop, people were fighting in queues to get themselves tested. This has never before happened in our community, to me it was not a surprise but rather a miracle.

With “Break the Silence, Stop HIV Campaign,” we believe that BAME LGBT perception of HIV in the UK will change. We are optimistic that these positive results will trickle down to other Countries.

I dedicate this award to all those LGBTI people living in Countries in Communities homosexuality and also those facing the stigma attached to HIV and LGBTI people, my message is be strong change is coming.

In this regard, l earnestly appeal for support.

For more photos from the event: