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Press Release from the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE):

Gay film prize goes to The Kuchus of Uganda

21 March 2010

Still from The Kuchus of UgandaThe film The Kuchus of Uganda, directed by Mathilda Piehl, tonight won the Derek Oyston CHE Film Award, as part of the London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival. The award is for the film screened in the Festival which most reflects the aims and objectives of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE). It was first presented in 2009, and is named after Derek Oyston, who had left a substantial bequest to CHE.

The Kuchus of Uganda was shown this evening at the National Film Theatre on the South Bank, together with two other films about gay and lesbian life in Africa. The screening was followed by a panel discussion chaired by Nazmila Jamal, one of the programmers for the festival. At the end of the discussion Griffith Vaughan Williams, Secretary of CHE, was called to the podium to present the certificate, with a cheque for £2,000, to Nazmila Jamal, to be passed on to Mathilda Piehl, who was unable to be present in person.

The film depicts the work of SMUG (Sexual Minorities Uganda) and their struggle against homophobia.We see them engaged in a debate with medical students, most of whom show a surprising degree of ignorance and prejudice. As one of the SMUG members points out, traditional African societies were often understanding of homosexuality: homophobia is an import from Western societies, introduced by missionaries and British colonialism. The word “Kuchus” has been adopted by SMUG members as a way of referring to themselves as gay people.

The judging panel included Nazmila Jamal, two members of CHE’s national executive, and a representative of the International Lesbian and Gay Cultural Network (ILGCN).

Presenting the award, Griffith Vaughan Williams said; “We’re delighted to present this award for a second year, through the generosity of Derek Oyston. The award is intended to stimulate film makers to explore the issues of LGBT rights around the world. It goes to the director to encourage them to make future films on similar issues. During the panel discussion this evening, some of the activists talked about the need to actually do things to promote gay equality. CHE has been doing things for many years, and it was a CHE conference that led to the launch of ILGA (the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Association). Watching the film, it was very disturbing to see the level of prejudice among medical students in Uganda. We need to watch out for doctors and medical students who may have picked up such ideas and may already be here in the UK.”

There’s more about CHE and the Derek Oyston Film Awards on the CHE website at www.c-h-e.org.uk. For more about the London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival see www.bfi.org.uk/llgff. For more about ILGCN see www.ilgcn.tupilak.org.

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For more information, e-mail CHE at info@c-h-e.info@c-h-e.org.uk.

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