Pepe Julian Onziema Receives 2012 Clinton Global Citizen Awards

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On September 24, 2012, President Bill Clinton honored recipients at the sixth annual Clinton Global Citizen Awards in New York City in a ceremony featuring performances by recording artists and appearances by heads of state and celebrity philanthropists. The Clinton Global Citizen Awards recognizes individuals from various sectors who demonstrate visionary leadership in addressing  global challenges. Carlos Slim Helú, founder of Fundación Carlos Slim; Luis A. Moreno, president of Inter-American Development Bank; Denis O’Brien, chairman and founder of Digicel Group; Pepe Julian Onziema, programme director and advocacy officer of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG); The Right Reverend Christopher Senyonjo, executive director of St. Paul’s Reconciliation and Equality Centre; and Katie Stagliano, founder and chief executive gardener of Katie’s Krops, accepted awards this year.

“The work being done by this year’s honorees is nothing short of extraordinary,” said President Clinton. “Tonight I’m proud to honor two Ugandans who risk their lives to secure basic human dignities many of us take for granted, three leaders whose contributions have positively impacted communities across the Caribbean and Latin America, and a social entrepreneur on pace to take my job before she turns 16. These are some truly amazing folks. They embody the spirit of CGI and inspire us all to be more responsible citizens of the world.”

The honorees were nominated by a collection of CGI members and global leaders and selected for their visionary leadership, demonstrated impact, and sustainable and scalable work in solving global issues. Recipients were chosen from government, civil society, the private sector, and the philanthropic community.

Pepe Julian Onziema is a 31-year old Ugandan transgender person. A Pan-African Human Rights Defender currently working as the programme director and advocacy officer at Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), Onziema is the spokesperson for both SMUG and the Ugandan LGBT movement, plus the LGBTI focal person on the Steering Committee of the Pan African Human Rights Defenders Network. In these capacities he has mobilized, coordinated, led, organized, and moderated actions to promote and protect the liberties of LGBTI persons in Uganda, regionally at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and internationally at the United Nations Human Rights Council. He has been arrested, threatened, named, and shamed in local media for his work.

Watch his acceptance speech below (video only works in the United States):