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Veteran activist Peter Tatchell wins lifetime achievement award

LGBT heroes and role models honored at Britain’s first National Diversity Awards, including GSN editor Tris Reid-Smith
Left to right Peter Tatchell (LGBT activist) with Scott Nunn and Tris Reid-Smith (Gay Star News directors) celebrating winning at the National Diversity Awards 2012.

Veteran gay activist Peter Tatchell has been honored with a lifetime achievement award for his 45 years of human rights campaigning.

The Australian-born, UK-based campaigner was among the winners at Britain’s first National Diversity Awards last night (21 September).

Gay Star News editor, director and co-founder Tris Reid-Smith also won as LGBT entrepreneur of the year for his role in founding GSN last year.

Paris Lees, a transgender activist and journalist who has helped push trans issues to the top of the media agenda in the UK was named LGBT positive role model of 2012.

The organization she helped to establish, Trans Media Watch, was a runner up in the community organization category, along with LGBT Youth Scotland.

That LGBT organization gong was scooped by MindOut, a voluntary group that helps gay, bi and trans people with mental health problems.

And The Co-operative Group was honored as the diverse company of the year, particularly for its LGBT employee network which helped the firm get named as Britain’s most gay-friendly retail employer earlier this year by campaign group Stonewall.

Gay people won in non-LGBT categories too with Disability Online being named the disability community organization of the year. It was founded by Wayne Clinton when he struggled to get services and support as a disabled and gay man and decided to help others like him.

Other notable shortlisted nominees included Nathan Popple, a straight 14-year-old with two gay mums whose cerebral palsy made him realize that the north-east English city of Leeds wasn’t doing enough to give access to disabled people. He set up the Accessible Leeds site to tackle the issue.

And Rukus, which promotes black lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender artists was in the final three as race community organization of 2012, beaten by race hate crime organization the Anthony Walker Foundation.

Long-term trans activist Christine Burns, whose work helped lead to the 2004 Gender Recognition Act in Britain was shortlisted in two categories – as LGBT role model of the year and as a lifetime achiever.

But she was pipped to the post by Lees and Tatchell.

Tatchell’s selection as 2012’s lifetime achiever comes in the same year he marked his 60th birthday, pledging not to retire but to continue his unpaid human rights work for as long as he can.

In his acceptance speech, he quoted his personal motto: ‘Don’t accept the world as it is, dream of the world could be and then help make it happen.’

GSN editor Tris used his speech to honor others who have also been entrepreneurial in starting Gay Star News and driving it to massive success, with over 500,000 readers a month, in just nine months.

Speaking afterwards, Tris said: ‘This is really a shared award for the whole GSN team, our clients who have supported us so brilliantly and our amazing readers who continue to help us improve and build, thanks to their enthusiasm and feedback.

‘I promise to work five times harder to be worthy of this award, which saw me up against some very strong competition and honored alongside so many true heroes.’

The first National Diversity Awards, sponsored by Microsoft, was held at the Midlands Hotel in Manchester, north-west England.

The performers included the L Project, a group of female gay artists who released a charity single in February to fight anti-LGBT bullying. Their song, It Does Get Better, was among the first community activities supported by GSN, shortly after our launch.

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