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Gay marriage heroes and diversity champions honored at awards

Gay marriage heroes and diversity champions honored at awards

A French hero of same-sex marriage has won a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin was honored at the European Diversity Awards last night (26 September).

The former health, sport and the environment minister made headlines in 2010 by condemning Pope Benedict when he said condoms actually promote AIDS. And she was a long-term champion of same-sex marriage.

In her acceptance speech she paid tribute to her parents, who were both in the Resistance against Nazi occupation during World War II, saying ‘this award is for me, but it is also for them’.

Joking ‘unfortunately I am heterosexual’, Bachelot added: ‘The struggle against discrimination and for diversity is the key of my personal life and political life.’

The French politician was among an array of heroes honored at the gala dinner, held under the watchful gaze of a diplodocus in the great hall of London’s Natural History Museum.

Among the LGBT winners was Claire Harvey. One of two open gay Paralympians at London 2012 and an ambassador for the Gay Games who was named Hero of the Year.

The Marketing Campaign of the Year award went to leading British lesbian, gay and bisexual organization Stonewall.

Their campaign ‘Some Guys Marry Guys/ Some Girls Marry Girls, Get Over It!’ was part of the fight to win equal marriage in England and Wales.

Ben Summerskill, Stonewall’s boss, said: ‘Stonewall is a remarkable constellation of dozens of brilliant staff, hundreds of volunteers and thousands of supporters and thank you from all of them.’

Highly commended in the marketing category was a personalized debit card commercial by UK banking giant Barclays. It featured gay couples, singles and people from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

Another banker honored was Antonio Simoes, the openly gay head of HSBC in the UK since 2012. He was named Diversity Champion of the Year.

Campaigner of the Year went to Wing Commander Mark Abrahams who leads the UK’s Royal Air Force LGBT Forum.

As well as serving in Afghanistan, he traveled to the US to meet officers at the Pentagon and advise them on abandoning ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ that used to stop lesbian, gay or bi people serving openly in the military.

And Suki Sandhu, who started new networking group OUTstanding in Business for top-tier LGBT executives in the UK, won the Innovator of the Year award.

Veteran LGBT and human rights activist Peter Tatchell made the keynote speech at the dinner, celebrating advances in Europe and highlighting abuses across the continent.

He predicted the gay marriage revolution, which started in 2001 in the Netherlands, would prove unstoppable.

‘Same-sex marriage will be a reality worldwide,’ he said. ‘In some places it will take a long time but it will happen eventually.’