During the announcement of the category for International Activist, presenter James Kavanagh shared, “While it is important to recognise the efforts of those in Ireland towards creating a society where we often take our status for granted, we must not forget that in countries across the world there are LGBT+ activists fighting for the most basic human rights, often in the face of great hostility and personal danger. We recognise the efforts of those courageous LGBT+ people in the fight against demonisation, oppression, isolation, imprisonment, torture and murder.”
Co-presenter Anne Doyle added, “Three major human rights organisations, Amnesty International, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and Front Line Defenders come together each year with the National LGBT+ Federation to create a bursary of €2,000 for an international activist to help continue their good fight.”
The nominees included
A queer feminist from Kyrgyzstan who has been instrumental in helping achieve rights for trans people in the country.
An LBQ activist from Kazakhstan who has been arrested and attacked because of her sexuality and activism.
A trans woman from the Favela of Maré in Rio de Janeiro who founded a civil society organisation with the mission of fighting for the rights of LGBT+ people living in the favelas.
Nayyab Ali is a transgender rights defender and Chairperson of the All Pakistan Transgender Election Network. She also manages the Khawaja Sira Community Centre in Okara, which offers a basic literacy and numeracy programme, vocational training, life skills education and driving classes for the transgender community. In 2018, Nayyab was one of the four transgender candidates who ran for Pakistan’s general elections. Nayyab has also been leading the advocacy efforts for the approval of the Pakistan’s National Transgender Rights Protection Policy.
Pakistan became one of the first countries to legally recognise a third sex on its national ID cards almost a decade ago and extended this to its passports in 2017. However, discrimination and violence persist. Nayyab herself has also faced numerous threats and physical attacks, and she survived an acid attack.
While Nayyab was unable to attend the awards personally, Andrea Rocca, the deputy director of Frontline Defenders and board member of the NXF accepted the award on her behalf. Andrea talked about a visit to Dublin Nayyab had made some months before.
“She delivered a very powerful testimony about herself and our brothers and sisters in the trans community in Pakistan, and, above all, about hope. Hope in the face of adversity and how hope in fact fuels her activism and determination, and how hope ultimately pays off. She is one of those who can be credited for positive legislative change for the trans community in Pakistan.”
In a pre-recorded video message, Nayyib shared, “It is an honour for me to have been recognised for my commitment to make Pakistan a safe society for gender and sexual minorities.”