Human Rights Watch's Alison Des Forges Award celebrates the valor of individuals who put their lives on the line to protect the dignity and rights of others. Human Rights Watch collaborates with these courageous activists to create a world in which people live free of violence, discrimination, and oppression.
Steave Nemande, president of the human rights organization Alternatives-Cameroun, speaks out against laws criminalizing homosexuality. In Africa, an overwhelming majority of countries still consider homosexuality an offence punishable by lengthy jail sentences and, in some cases, the death penalty. Nemande advocates at great personal risk, both in his native Cameroon and internationally, for the decriminalization of homosexuality and for the removal of barriers to accessing health care for this vulnerable community.
Under Nemande's leadership, Alternatives-Cameroun monitors human rights violations, and provides legal and financial assistance to survivors. Nemande, a medical doctor, also runs the Access Centre health care facility. Alternatives-Cameroun established the Centre two years ago to care for HIV and AIDS victims within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.
Fears of discrimination, arrest, and criminal prosecution keep many members of the LGBT community away from public health institutions in Cameroon and other parts of Africa. Moreover, national programs and policies that deal with HIV and AIDS ignore gays, lesbians, and transgender people-a population greatly at risk to sexually transmitted diseases.
Since its founding in 2006, Alternatives-Cameroun has documented 23 cases of arbitrary detention for suspected homosexual conduct, and has gathered 1,600 signatures to petition the Cameroonian National Assembly to decriminalize same-sex relations. Alternatives-Cameroun is the first NGO fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity to be granted observer status by the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights.
Human Rights Watch honors Steave Nemande for his tireless work to promote and defend the human rights of LGBT people in Africa.