Jamaican gay-rights activist Maurice Tomlinson has been named the initial recipient of the annual David Kato Vision & Voice Award. Tomlinson, a legal advisor at AIDS-Free World received the award Jan. 31.
The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), one of the organizations sponsoring the award. Kato, a gay human-rights activist, was murdered in his home in Uganda in 2011. The man convicted of killing Kato used a so-called ”gay panic defense” in court.
Tomlinson fled Jamaica in 2011 after the Jamaica Observer reported on his marriage, generating death threats. ”I would like to return to Jamaica to continue teaching law at the University of Technology, Jamaica, as wall as assist J-FLAG with their documentation and reporting of LGBT human rights violations, but I simply do not feel that the Jamaican police force would protect me,” Tomlinson said upon receiving the award.
Along with ILGA, the group’s sponsoring the award are Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), which Kato headed; The Global Forum on MSM & HIV; Herbert Smith LLP; the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development; and the International Planned Parenthood Federation.
Nearly 200,000 people have signed on to a Change.org campaign calling on Citibank and Barclays to protest Uganda’s ”kill the gays” bill. While homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, proposed legislation seeks – to an extreme degree – to add new penalties.
The petition was started by Collin Burton, a gay Citibank customer in D.C., to oppose his bank’s and Barclay’s investments in Uganda.
”I expect Citibank and Barclays to live up to the values of equality and fairness, not just list them on their websites,” Burton is quoted as saying in a Change.org release. “Protecting gay and lesbian Ugandans from the ‘kill the gays’ bill shouldn’t just be a battle waged by global citizens – it should also be the responsibility of the international business community.”
According to 2010 financial reports, Citibank has almost $300 million in assets invested in Uganda. Citibank has also been a strong supporter of LGBT rights in the U.S. Citibank earned a 100 percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index.
“Collin is asking Citibank and Barclays to follow the corporate values they support around the world, and his campaign on Change.org has inspired … others to join him,” said Change.org campaign manager Mark Anthony Dingbaum. “Change.org is about empowering anyone, anywhere to take action on the issues that matter to them, and it has been incredible to watch Collin mobilize people around the globe to prevent the potential incarceration and execution of gay people in Uganda.”