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Ugandan Human Rights Activist Focuses on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Advocacy in the United States, Visits Washington, D.C., Louisville, and Salt Lake City


Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
July 9, 2010

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Ugandan Human Rights Activist Focuses on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Advocacy in the United States, Visits Washington, D.C., Louisville, and Salt Lake City

One of Uganda’s most outspoken and prominent human rights activists, Ms. Valentine (Val) Kalende, is visiting the United States under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program to focus on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) advocacy. Ms. Kalende will have discussions with members of government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, faith groups, and the media, as well as with local and federal government officials. In turn, she will talk with U.S. interlocutors and broader audiences about the Ugandan human rights situation and challenges faced by members of the LGBT community.

As a human rights-LGBT rights advocate and Programs and Communications Manager of Freedom and Roam Uganda, Ms. Kalende has been deeply involved in opposition to a proposed “anti-homosexuality” law introduced in 2009 in the Ugandan parliament. The controversial law would sentence some LGBT people to life in prison or even death. A former journalist, Ms. Kalende has written a full accounting of the anti-homosexuality movement in her country. She has also raised awareness of how this legislation would impact all of Ugandan society. Ms. Kalende has been harassed, beaten, and arrested because of her advocacy work. She has been featured by U.S. and international news organizations as one of the most courageous human rights activists in Uganda.

Ms. Kalende’s program includes visits in Salt Lake City, Utah (July 7-10) and Louisville, Kentucky (July 10-13) before concluding in Washington, D.C. (July 13 – 15). This exchange experience is designed to provide her with an in-depth understanding of U.S. government systems and political organization at all levels; civil rights protections and equal opportunity laws in the United States; advocacy strategies adopted by organizations to influence policy and effect positive change; organizing strategies across sectors, from building a movement to peaceful protests; challenges and work of the American LGBT movement; faith communities and LGBT issues; media coverage of human rights issues and use of media to advance organization’s message; and, the work of international human rights organizations focused on Uganda and gender issues.

Availability: Ms. Kalende is available to speak with the media.

Media Contact: Catherine Stearns, (202) 632-6437 and StearnsCL@state.gov

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs fosters mutual understanding between the United States and other countries through international educational, cultural, and professional exchanges. The Bureau’s International Visitor Leadership Program manages professional visits to the United States for current and emerging foreign leaders, who represent government, politics, business, the media, education, non-governmental organizations, the arts, public health, international security, business, and many other fields. Annually over 4,500 participants around the world are selected by U.S. embassies to meet and confer with their professional counterparts and to gain a firsthand understanding of U.S. society and culture.





PRN: 2010/919



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