Human Rights First Commemorates Human Rights Day with Advocates & Allies of the Year Awards
By Shawn M. Gaylord
Today, Human Rights First commemorates Human Rights Day marking the date in 1948 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration was the first time the global community spelled out a set of inalienable rights everyone is entitled to have, including LGBTQ people.
In honor of the day, on December 11, 2017, Human Rights First and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) will present our third annual Advocates & Allies in the Global Equality Movement awards to outstanding LGBTQ advocates and allies from around the world. This year, we recognize an advocate from the Russian LGBT Network, a faith leader from Jamaica, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
2017 Advocate of the Year: Tatiana Vinnichenko, chair of the Russian LGBT Network
Tatiana Vinnichenko is a Russian human rights defender, LGBTQ activist and feminist. Following arrests, torture, and extrajudicial killings of gay men by authorities in Chechnya, Russia this year, the Russian LGBT Network played a leading role in helping LGBTQ Chechens flee to countries that could provide safe harbor.
Human Rights First and HRC work closely with Vinnichenko and her organization to help persecuted LGBT people escape the violence and to bring more attention to the atrocities in Chechnya through the #EyesOnChechnya campaign. Following reports of abuse and ongoing persecution of gay men in Chechnya, Human Rights First CEO & President, Elisa Massimino wrote a letter to Ambassador Nikki Haley calling for U.S. leadership at the United Nations in pressing for accountability for the egregious violations of human rights.
2017 Ally of the Year Award: Father Sean Major-Campbell, Rector of Christ Church in Vineyard Town, Jamaica
Father Sean Major-Campbell has been bravely standing up for LGBTQ people at his church, in his community and beyond. He formerly served as Rector of the Anglican Church in the Cayman Islands, where he advocated for people living with HIV as a member of the Cayman AIDS Foundation.
Most recently, he organized an international conference Intimate Conviction in October 2017 with prominent church leaders to examine the church and anti-sodomy laws in the British Commonwealth.The conference showed the importance of churches coming together in service of common humanity and broadening religious conversations around the repeal of laws affecting LGBTQ people. About the conference and his work, Father Sean said, “It is hoped that everyone will hear perspectives that promote respectful dialogue on the rugged landscape of human sexuality and theological discourse.”
Special recognition: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
Since 2014, the IACHR has been supporting LGBTQ people in the Western Hemisphere. Particularly, the commission has been monitoring and reporting on LGBTQ human rights violations, taking on LGBTQ cases before the Inter-American Court, and providing technical assistance on LGBTQ issues to members of the Organization of American States. Under the leadership of past Rapporteur Tracy Robinson and current Rapporteur Francisco José Eguiguren Praeli, the IACHR continues to stand up for the human rights of LGBTQ people in the region. Learn more about the IACHR’s LGBTQ work here.
We look forward to building continuing relationships with advocates and allies to help expand LGBTQ equality around the world. Learn more Human Rights First LGBT Campaign, and its work globally here.
Human Rights First and HRC are honored to recognize these outstanding advocates at an awards event on December 11 in Washington, D.C. Learn more about the event here.