Front Line Defenders Award LGBT+ Activists

The award ceremony in City Hall saw five LGBT+ activists honoured for their incredible activism.

Badr Baabou at the Front Line Defenders Award ceremony
Image: Kenneth O'Halloran

Marking International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB), Dublin-based human rights organisation, Front Line Defenders, presented awards to five LGBT+ human rights defenders this morning.

The award ceremony was held at City Hall and Katherine Zappone, Irish Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, presented the awards.

The awards are presented to five regional laureates, with one winner also receiving a global award. Badr Baabou of Tunisia was named the Global Laureate by an Irish jury.

Badr Baabou is co-founder and Chairman of DAMJ (meaning ‘inclusion’), an organisation working for equality and justice for the LGBTI+ community. He is also co-chair of M-Coalition, the first regional network on MSM and HIV-related rights in the MENA region, which advocates for improved access to HIV services in member countries.

“Despite the attacks, the violence, and the aggression, I am no longer afraid,” said Badr.

“Our sexual orientation is just one aspect that defines us as human beings. Sooner or later, homophobia will become obsolete as a social issue.”

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising – led by queer, transgender and sex worker activists of colour and spurring the movement for LGBT+ rights. In honour of the anniversary, Front Line defenders dedicated the 2019 award to LGBT+ activism.

Front Line Defenders Executive Director Andrew Anderson said that the organisation recognises in particular the work of transgender human rights defenders.

“Today we’re honouring the work of LGBTI+ defenders and the incredible communities of resistance they cultivate every day,” Anderson said.

“The work of queer-identifying activists and collectives continues to shape and reshape how we understand personal, political and contested struggles for freedom,” Anderson added.

“We hope this award can be small acknowledgement of the immense, often incomprehensible bravery required to visibilise oneself as both an activist and LGBT+ person in places that demean and criminalize each of these identities.”

Among the five regional laureates was Shinta Ratri, Pondok Pesantren Waria al-Fatah, from Indonesia. Shinta Ratri is a transgender woman who co-founded Pondok Pesantren Waria al-Fatah, an Islamic boarding school for transgender people.

Eric Sambisa, a co-founder of the Nyasa Rainbow Alliance, Malawi, was also awarded for his work providing support services and a safe space for the LGBT+ community in Malawi. In 2015, Sambisa became the first person in Malawi to come out as gay on national television.

Rosanna Marzán, Executive Director of Diversidad Dominicana, is leading a new wave of LGBTI+ awareness in the Dominican Republic. She considers herself a “social educator” and works with fellow activists to raise awareness of the need for SOGIESC inclusion as well as to make the issues faced by lesbian women, migrants, refugees and domestic abuse survivors more visible. Marzán was also awarded at the ceremony.

Front Line Defenders awarded Veronika Lapina, an academic and activist with the Russian LGBT Network who risked her life and freedom traveling into Chechnya to bring individuals to safety in Russia. Lapina has helped evacuate more than 100 members of the LGBT+ community.

© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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