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Abbey Kiwanuka, an African LGBT advocate, has been shortlisted for the Positive LGBT Role Mode Award category at the UK National Diversity Awards 2018.

Abbey Kiwanuka, an African LGBT advocate, based in Paddington in London, has been shortlisted for the Positive LGBT Role Mode Award category at the National Diversity Awards 2018.

The National Diversity Awards received over 24,538 nominations and votes this year, and nomination alone is a tremendous honour –and a testament to achievements and devotion to equality, diversity and inclusion. The Awards highlight the country’s most inspiring people and will be held on 14th September 2018 in Liverpool — a prestigious black-tie event celebrating the achievements of grass-root communities that tackle major issues in society, providing recognition for their dedication and hard work.

Charities, role models and community heroes will be honoured at the ceremony, which will showcase their outstanding devotion to enhancing equality, diversity and inclusion, and embrace excellence in all our citizens irrespective of race, faith, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability and culture.

About Abbey Kiwanuka

Abbey Kiwanuka founded Out and Proud African LGBT (OPAL), formally known as Out and Proud Diamond Group.  Abbey, a respected advocate and Human Rights Campaigner, has been profoundly affected by his experiences working with African LGBT persons in the UK, France and the Netherlands. The injustices and discrimination against LGBT people, both in African Countries and in the EU, planted the seed of OPAL.

Abbey has experienced and witnessed the devastating effects of detention centres, homelessness and prejudice. He has grappled with the enduring question of how African LGBT people can live the way they want without discrimination or suffering inhuman treatment in the UK. He has encountered much stigma in African communities in the UK, France and the Netherlands towards LGBT people. He searched for a safe forum where African LGBT people could learn to relate to one another in new ways that would enhance their lives by talking about their darkest hours in a new safe environment.

In 2012, Abbey visited the Netherlands, and witnessed real horror: the Dutch authorities refused LGB asylum seekers outright and imprisoned them for a year. He started with the case of Marvin Kalanzi, who was in Rotterdam Prison. Abbey wrote to Juan E. Méndez, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, who liaised with the Dutch Authorities to have Marvin released, and eventually granted protection. Abbey deemed it essential to start a group to create a safe forum, conducive to supporting, where people could learn to trust and relate to one another once again and to share aspects of their lives usually hidden.

OPAL started as a group of seven men now, and now has over a hundred men and women members, supported by part-time staff and a group of dedicated volunteers.

Before achieving asylum, Abbey lived in the UK without legal status, homeless, and detention and, above all, through loneliness. The Medical Foundation (which has changed its name to Freedom from Torture) diagnosed him with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2010. Despite this, Abbey has managed to overcome those difficulties to become a stronger person today.

Over the last five years, Abbey has helped many LGBT Africans to legalise their status. This year, one of those he helped has finished his Second Degree (LLM) with a first-class degree from Birkbeck, University of London. Another has completed a degree in Cyber Security at Metropolitan University.  He has supported many African LGBT people, and they are doing well in their areas of expertise.

Speaking about shortlisting at the National Diversity Award, Abbey has said:

“I am overjoyed to be shortlisted for National Diversity Awards 2018, in a category of Positive Role Model LGBT for my advocacy of LGBT asylum rights. My premise is that I don’t want to see anyone go through what I went through. I have engaged the court system as an appellant and, latterly, as a scholar”

Read more Diversity Awards 2018