Hillary Clinton

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has honoured Ugandan gay rights activists during her visit to the county, no doubt to the irritation of the government.

Clinton attended a reception at the US Embassy in the capital Kampala on Friday where she acknowledged work by local activists to oppose continued efforts to further criminalise and persecute LGBT people.

She awarded her department’s 2011 Human Rights Defender Award to activists including Adrian Jjuuko, Geoffrey Ogwaro, Julius Kaggwa, Joanita Warry Nambirige, Clare Byarugaba, Frank Mugisha, and Hassan Shire Sheikh.

“The work you are doing is helping to make human rights a human reality. You are tearing down barriers that prevent people from enjoying the full measure of liberty, the full experience of dignity, the full benefits of humanity. And this coalition shows what can happen when brave change-makers come together,” said Clinton.

“…It is critical for all Ugandans – the government and citizens alike – to speak out against discrimination, harassment, and intimidation of anyone. That’s true no matter where they come from, what they believe, or whom they love. And no one has been a stronger champion than all of you. You’ve been organised, disciplined, and savvy. You have marshalled the evidence and made the arguments using the rights enshrined in Uganda’s constitution and in international law. And by doing so, you are a model for others and an inspiration to the world.

“I’m well aware that you do your work often amidst difficult, even dangerous circumstances. I know that some of your lives have been threatened, your friends and families intimidated. But I want you to know that the United States is and will be your partner,” said Clinton.

She revealed that she had raised the issue of LGBT rights with President Museveni during her visit, adding that “this isn’t just about carving out special privileges for any one group; this is about making sure universal rights are protected for all people”.

The reception took place as activists held low-key Pride events in the city. On Saturday, a number of participants were arrested at a Pride party.

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