Ugandan gay activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera has received the prestigious Martin Ennals rights award.

The Geneva-based Martin Ennal rights award is granted yearly to a person who has an exceptional record of fighting against human rights violations. The award aims at encouraging human rights defenders who are at risk.

The jury which had finalized the awards said she worked her way despite severe opposition and threat to her life.

A BBC report said an African tabloid had published a list and photographs of gay people in the country with the headline Hang them. It forced Kasha move to different places but engaged herself in fights for human dignity and the rights of homosexuals in Africa.

On 26 January 2011 one of her colleagues, gay activist David Kato, was murdered following the publication of a “gay list” by the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone calling for their hanging; in this black list Kasha Jacqueline’s name also appears.

The Chairman of the Jury of the MEA, Hans Thoolen, said Kasha was “an exceptional woman of a rare courage, fighting under death threat for human dignity and the rights of homosexuals and marginalised people in Africa”.

Thirty seven countries in Africa bar homosexuality, including Uganda and there are widespread anti-gay sentiments. In fact, Uganda had introduced a bill in 2009 that planned to increase punishment for homosexual acts from 14 years to lifetime imprisonment.

The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders is named after the late British lawyer and head of Amnesty International.