Taiwan’s non-binary government minister, Audrey Tang, was named one of the world’s most prominent political figures and influential thinkers.
Foreign Policy also named Indian human rights lawyer Menaka Guruswamy, who was instrumental in decriminalizing gay sex in India, in the list.
Audrey Tang—an anarchist and a hacker—made headlines in 2016 when they became the world’s first transgender (or postgender) minister.
Using new technology and social media, they are quickly shaking up how Taiwan’s government interacts with its people.
Tang said the award was a recognition of Taiwan’s ‘democracy and social cohesion’.
It’s an honor to be one of the 2019 #FPGlobalThinkers. This is recognition of #Taiwan’s democracy & social cohesion. It’s also affirmation of the resilience of our people & ability to work together in realizing open government. Let’s remain Brave & Confident – One with the World! https://t.co/a7wwBcItxX
— 唐鳳 (@audreyt) January 24, 2019
Last year, Tang told Gay Star News how social media could bring people together and virtual reality could foster empathy.
Ireland’s first gay taoiseach
Ireland’s Leo Varadhkar came out two years before he was elected taoiseach—or prime minister.
Foreign Policy recognized his leadership in insisting on a soft border with Northern Ireland during Brexit negotiations.
Joey Joleen Mataele co-founded the Tonga Leitis Association. Leitis is the name for trans women in Tonga.
Mataele fights for the rights of transgender and LGB people in the Polynesian Country.
Last year, Mataele warned the situation for LGBTI Polynesians was deteriorating.
India’s Supreme Court win
Supreme Court lawyer Menaka Guruswamy was instrumental to India’s landmark decriminalization in September last year.
The human rights lawyer described Section 377 of India’s Penal Code, which criminalized gay sex with up to 10 years in prison, as a ‘colonial stain on our collective national conscience’.
Following the decision in September last year, Guruswamy pronounced a victory for LGBTI rights.
‘The court is very clear the LGBT community is protected by equality, dignity, non-discrimination, freedom of expression, life and liberty’ she said outside court.
‘The court is very clear it is the full protection of the constitution’, she said.
India’s decision has also had a global impact. It has sparked decriminalization debate in former British colonies including Singapore, Malaysia, and Kenya.
With the Constitution in our hearts, we go to our Court, to seek to remove a colonial stain on our collective national conscience. Section 377 your time has come. See you in Court on Tuesday. #section377 @chefritudalmia #iitiansagainst377 @arundhatikatju @barandbench
— Menaka Guruswamy (@MenakaGuruswamy) July 8, 2018