Cambodian trans activist wins David Kato award

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Cambodian trans activist Sou Sotheavy has won the 2014 David Kato award.

The annual award was set up to remember the Ugandan LGBT right activist David Kato, who was murdered in 2011.

Sotheavy was born in 1940 in Takeo province, Cambodia, and transitioned to female while working as a military nurse and studying performing arts.

When the communist Khmer Rouge regime took over in 1975 she was tortured, repeatedly raped, and forced to marry a woman.

After the fall of the regime, she began HIV/AIDs outreach work, and founded the Cambodian Network for Men Women Development, the first LGBT charity in Cambodia to support LGBT people. The charity also helps to support LGBT people in more rural areas of Cambodia, where education is low.

Despite being 75 she is still president of the charity, and the award is the first international recognition she has received.

She said: “I have been working without funds for a very long time,” said Sou. “This award will allow me to help my organization, train my team, and ultimately strengthen the rights of LGBT people in Cambodia.

“On the day I receive the award, my wish is that LGBT people from around the world will help support our LGBT communities in Cambodia, who are now facing a resurgence of violence from authorities. I will fight until the end of my life. I will not stop until the rights for LGBT exist like for other people.”

Frank Mugisha, chair of the award committee, will present Sou with the award, which comes with a $10,000 (£6000) grant on stage at the Teddy Award ceremony in Berlin on Friday.

Last year the award went to Turkish campaigner Ali Erol.