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Uganda sexual rights group wins Norway prize

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 29 Sep 2011 11:29 GMT
Author: Reuters
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* Rafto Prize has anticipated Nobel Peace Prize four times

* Sexual Minorities Uganda opposes bias on sexual orientation

* Says plight of Ugandan homosexuals, others "getting worse"

OSLO, Sept 29 (Reuters) - An annual Norwegian human rights award that sometimes presages the Nobel Peace Prize was given to Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a group that fights discrimination against homosexuals and others with unconventional sexual orientation in Africa.

The 2011 Rafto Prize from Norway's Rafto Foundation will be received in Bergen, Norway, on Nov. 6 by the group's executive director, Frank Mugisha, the foundation said on Thursday.

Four previous Rafto laureates -- Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi, East Timor's Jose Ramos-Horta, South Korea's Kim Dae-jung and Iran's Shirin Ebadi -- went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in subsequent years.

In announcing SMUG as this year's Rafto Prize recipient, the Norwegian foundation said social conflicts related to sexual orientation and gender equality were "getting worse" in Uganda.

"People who do not conform to society's gender and sexual norms are subject to abuse in today's Uganda," it said.

"Homosexuality is publicly portrayed as 'un-African' and a 'contagious' pollutant that destroys society and therefore must be eliminated."

The foundation added: "Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons are often ostracised by their families and local communities and are left without any form of social safety net. Many lose their jobs and place at school and end up having to live in the slum." (Reporting by Walter Gibbs)

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