Asia’s LGBTI heroes have been honored at the first Asian Pink Awards in Singapore.
Campaigners and company representatives flew in from all over the region and as far away as Europe for the event last night (16 March), organized by Asian gay men’s magazine Element.
Among those honored was A-Mei, the hit Taiwanese singer who held a free concert in 2013 to support same-sex marriage.
Another singer, Laure Shang, a past winner of the Chinese Supergirls contest and an LGBTI advocate was also given an award.
There were big cheers for M Ravi, a human rights lawyer from Singapore who is pushing for decriminalization of gay sex and protection from discrimination through the courts.
He pulled up onto the stage some of the clients he is supporting to mount the legal challenges.
He commented: ‘This is the first time, after 10 years, I am actually getting a human rights award.’
That was common for many of those honored.
Another local hero is Reverend Dr Yap Kim Hao, a bishop and now pastoral adviser to a gay-friendly Singaporean church. He pledged ‘to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with LGBT people until the day they are no longer discriminated against.’
Gay Malaysian pastor Rev O Young, who held the first publicized gay wedding in his country was another man of faith honored.
Anan Bouapha, was praised for his work in combatting HIV in Laos and in organizing the country’s first LGBTI pride. He said the work ahead included getting fair access to health and employment for LGBTI people.
Billy Leung, a leading LGBTI campaigner from Hong Kong, shared his award with ‘the many people who are still in the closet, who think coming out is not an option’.
While Taiga Ishikawa said the awards would give ‘hope’ to many. He campaigned for the right of Japanese people to marry foreign partners if the other country allowed it and is and one of two openly gay people to win an election in Japanese history.
Bryan Choong runs Singapore’s Oogachaga LGBTI counseling service.
He shared the story of a hotline call he took from a young, newly out, lesbian. She was abused by her parents and under pressure to sever ties with her girlfriend and other LGBTI people. He said it illustrated how important the service’s work is.
The final winner of the 10 awards for individuals was Wei Jian Gang, a leading light of gay Beijing, who has raised awareness through plays and movies.
He pointed out the other success of the award: ‘Bringing activists from different parts of Asia together to fight for LGBT rights.’
Barclays, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Google and Standard Chartered also received awards – highlighting the importance of companies in furthering LGBTI equality in Asia.
Light relief was offered during the awards when a future Element magazine cover star came on stage bearing a basket of KFC chicken to feed the guests.
The evening was hosted by Sebastian Castro, best known for his music video Bubble that went viral on YouTube. Italian singer Paolo Ferrarini also performed.
The event marked the first anniversary of Element magazine.
Gay Star News supported the awards as a media partner.