2018 Asia Pacific HERO Awards celebrate LGBTI advocacy

LGBTI rights activists and HIV campaigners from the Asia-Pacific gather in Bangkok to recognition for decades of advocacy work

LGBTI rights workers, campaigners for HIV prevention and community health workers were honored at the 2018 Asia Pacific HERO Awards ceremony on Friday (30 November).

The awards gala, which was scheduled to coincide with World AIDS Day, saw members of the activist world assemble to be celebrated at the British Embassy in Bangkok.

The ceremony honored LGBTI activists from Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, India, and Japan, for their work for bettering LGBTI rights and healthcare.

‘Standing on the shoulders of giants’
At the ceremony, Jean Chong, an LGBTI rights activist from Singapore, was named Community Hero for 20 years of exceptional service.

Speaking to GSN over the phone, Chong said she was honored to have received the award.

‘It’s a very special award as it’s the entire Asia-Pacific, not just Singapore,’ said Chong.

‘From a Singapore perspective, it’s great as Singapore is not seen all of the time. It’s an encouragement to the work a lot of us have done because if you look at the finalists, some of them have been doing it for 20-years or more.’

Chong also spoke of the changes in LGBTI advocacy and the recognition LGBTI rights had gained in recent years.

‘To me, it’s significant because ten years ago who would have dreamed that these important people would have recognized us. I think LGBT issues have become mainstream […] Since around 2006, the growth of LGBT activism across the Asia-Pacific has been incredible!

‘For me, it feels [like] such a privilege to get the award, as Singapore is so small and there are so [few] activists,’ Chong added.

‘There are so many incredible activists across the Asia-Pacific, and many of them have been the source of my inspiration since I was a teenager. And that’s why I don’t feel like I’m not so incredible, but feel like I’ve been standing on the shoulders of giants.’

Among other winners were Indian transgender activist Simran Shaikh was named Transgender Hero for her work on trans rights for over 20-years, and Nguyen Anh Phong from Vietnam awarded for his work as an HIV activist and care provider.

‘Extraordinary work’
‘On behalf of APCOM, I congratulate the winners and all the finalists on their achievements and community service,’ APCOM’s Regional Advisory Committee Chair Dede Oetomo said in a statement.

‘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,’ Oetomo added.

The British Ambassador to Thailand, H.E. Brian Davidson, also spoke of his delight that the British Embassy was able to host the awards, and extended his congratulations to this year’s winners.

‘These prestigious awards shine a light on the extraordinary work done by everyday heroes across the Asia Pacific region in their local communities to improve the lives of others,’ Davidson said.

‘World AIDS Day provides a valuable opportunity to show how the remarkable people and organizations we are rewarding can bring people together to make a difference and inspire others. I’d like to send my congratulations to these impressive awardees.’

The event was wrapped up by a drag show from Pangina Heals, who performed in front of a statue of Queen Victoria.

by Calum Stuart
Source – Gay Star News