Fearless LGBTI advocates from across Asia were honored for the first time in a glitzy awards ceremony in Bangkok.
Marriage equality, HIV prevention, transgender rights and community health advocates were among eight winners at the HERO Awards.
Hosted by APCOM the HERO Awards stands for ‘HIV, Equality and Rights’. APCOM is a regional HIV and LGBT community network. The event also raised funds for APCOM’s work in HIV education, prevention, treatment, care and support, and human rights.
The awards acknowledge outstanding service to the HIV response in Asia and the Pacific, and to the region’s LGBTI communities.
Over 300 people attended the inaugural event in Bangkok and saw the eight award recipients take out the top honors.
Some of the winners included Community Hero award recipient Chi Chia-wei. He is Taiwan’s acclaimed LGBT rights campaigner who led the country’s recently successful charge for marriage equality.
Malaysia’s esteemed transgender activist Khartini Slamah was named Transgender Hero for over 30 years of dedicated service to transgender rights and health.
The HIV Hero award went to 25-year-old Gautam Yadav for his exceptional work as an HIV activist and role model for young people with HIV in India.
Thailand was represented twice, with longtime director of the Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Centre Professor Praphan Panupak honored with the Community Ally Award, and Thailand resident Dr Frits van Griensven named as Health and Wellbeing Hero for his outstanding work as an HIV researcher and community health advocate.
Pakistan’s Qasim Iqbal was deemed a Social Justice Hero for his trailblazing advocacy for LGBT health and rights.
The Bandhu Social Welfare Society received the Community Organisation Award for its work in relation to HIV, health and rights of LGBT people in Bangladesh.
Lifetime achievement award
India’s Ashok Row Kavi received the inaugural Shivananda Khan Award for Extraordinary Achievement. It recognized his 40 years of outstanding service as an LGBT rights activist and HIV advocate.
The award, presented by APCOM, is named after the late Shivananda Khan. Khan founded APCOM and was a pioneering hero of the Asia Pacific response to HIV and LGBT health and rights.
‘Last night’s event was a truly inspirational and thoroughly entertaining evening and a great celebration of the dynamic spirit of our community,’ said APCOM’s Regional Advisory Committee Chair, Dede Oetomo after the awards.
‘I’d like to thank all the people who submitted nominations, our independent judging panels, our community and event partners, our fundraising auction donors and all our guests for coming along and supporting APCOM’s work by raising money to fund programs and services that are helping improve the health and wellbeing of our community.’