Twenty-one people and organisations from across Asia and the Pacific are up for a HERO award in Bangkok next month.

Some 21 people and organisations from across Asia and the Pacific have been selected as finalists for the HERO—HIV, Equality and Rights—Awards, a gala fundraising event in Bangkok in November which will honour the work of HIV and LGBT community heroes from across the region.

The recipients seven different awards will be presented with their prize at a gala ceremony and cocktail party on Sunday 12 November at the Pullman Bangkok King Power Hotel.

The 21 finalists have been selected from over 350 nominations across the seven categories submitted by community members throughout the region.

APCOM Executive Director Midnight Poonkasetwattana says the judges were impressed by the calibre and variety of nominations across the region. “The judging panel noted that selecting the finalists was a difficult process because the achievements and contributions of all the nominees were remarkable in their own way,” Mr Poonkasetwattana says.

“However, the judges agreed that the finalists they selected exhibited a truly outstanding commitment to advancing the health and rights of LGBT people and people affected by HIV, and they deserved to be recognised for their efforts. I congratulate the finalists and look forward to them and other members of our community coming together to honour and celebrate their achievements at the awards ceremony in Bangkok in November.”

The Awards are supported by several other regional HIV and LGBT community networks including the Asia Pacific Transgender Network (APTN), the Asia Pacific Network of People Living With HIV/AIDS (APN+), and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Association in Asia (ILGA Asia). UNAIDS and TQPR are also supporting the event.

Find out more about the finalists below:

Community Hero

  • Chi Chia-wei (Taiwan): acclaimed leader of the LGBT movement in Taiwan with over 30 years of service as a fearless and steadfast crusader for LGBT rights, including decades of work to help deliver this year’s historic ruling by Taiwan’s constitutional court in favour of marriage equality.
  • Xulhaz Mannan (Bangladesh): a passionate and fearless LGBT advocate, publisher and community organizer in Bangladesh who paid the ultimate sacrifice for his activism and leadership when he was brutally murdered by anti-LGBT militants in Dhaka in April last year.
  • Dr Hideki Sunagawa (Japan): trailblazing HIV and LGBT advocate with over 25 years of service to Japan’s LGBT community as a researcher, activist and community worker, and as a promoter of LGBT rights and culture through his leadership of the Tokyo Pride Parade and Pink Dot Okinawa.

 Transgender Hero

  • Khartini Slamah (Malaysia): dedicated transgender human rights defender with 30 years’ experience in HIV/AIDS work at the national, regional and International levels, working closely with transgender and sex worker communities.
  • Laxmi Narayan Tripathi (India): influential and high-profile transgender rights activist who was instrumental in helping deliver landmark legal recognition and rights for hijras (transgenders) in India.
  • Joleen Mataele (Tonga): powerful advocate with 25 years’ service advancing the health and rights of transgender people and other people of diverse sexuality and gender throughout the South Pacific.

HIV Hero

  • Gautam Yadav (India): exceptional activist and role model for young people with HIV in India.
  • Andrew Tan (Malaysia): co-founder of the Malaysian Positive Network and passionate advocate and care provider for people with HIV in Malaysia.
  • Palitha Vijayabandara (Sri Lanka): inspirational role model and bold advocate for the health and rights of people and communities affected by HIV in Sri Lanka.

 Social Justice

  • Qasim Iqbal (Pakistan): trailblazing advocate for LGBT health and rights in Pakistan and founder of the national NAZ network of LGBT community-based organisations.
  • Yuli Rustinawati (Indonesia): outstanding LGBT rights advocate and co-founder of Arus Pelangi, a community organisation based in Jakarta that promotes and defends the rights of LGBTI people communities across Indonesia.
  • Edmund Settle (Thailand): leading Asia Pacific advocate for the health and rights of LGBT people and people affected by HIV.

Health & Wellbeing

  • Dr Frits van Griensven (Thailand): outstanding HIV researcher and community health advocate with significant contributions made to mapping the HIV epidemic across SE Asia.
  • Laurindo Garcia (Philippines): inspirational HIV and community health advocate specializing in innovative comtech initiatives for HIV prevention and support
  • Dr Abhishek Royal (India): dedicated young doctor delivering outstanding care and support to communities affected by HIV in Delhi

Community Ally

  • Rev Dr Yap Kim Hao (Singapore): leading Methodist cleric and steadfast advocate for the rights and health of LGBT people and people affected by HIV in Singapore and internationally.
  • Praphan Panupak (Thailand): outstanding HIV researcher, founder and longtime director of Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Centre and committed advocate for people and communities affected by HIV.
  • Pia Wurtzbach (Philippines): Former Miss Universe and dedicated UNAIDS Ambassador for Asia Pacific.

Community Organisation

  • Bandhu Social Welfare Society (Bangladesh): internationally respected provider of HIV programs, sexual health services and human rights advocacy for LGBT people and communities throughout Bangladesh
  • G-Link (Vietnam): groundbreaking and innovative community clinic providing HIV prevention and support services for men who have sex with men in Vietnam.
  • Wajood (Pakistan): the esteemed transgender organization providing advocacy, support and employment for transgender people in Islamabad and Rawalpindi in Pakistan.