A Celebration of Courage: Felipa Awardees 1994-1999

1999 Awardees

Aung Myo Min, Burma

Aung Myo Min ("Myo") serves as director of the Campaign for Lesbigay Rights in Burma (CLRB), a committee established in mid-1996, and director of the Human Rights Documentation Unit of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB), the government-in-exile formed by Members of Parliament elected in 1990. His guiding passion for empowering lesbigay communities manifests in confidential workshops he organizes with gay Burmese activists who manage to go regularly to Thailand.

Prudence Mabele, South Africa

Prudence Mabele is an HIV-positive South African lesbian activist who is a tireless agent of struggle for people living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHAs) in her country. She is highly visible and active as an advocate for PLWHAs in her local Pretoria community, as well as nationally, regionally, and internationally. Most recently, Mabele has been working with the Commonwealth of African States in a new program for youth called Positive Young Ambassadors of Hope which increases the visibility of HIV-positive youth and those living with AIDS in an attempt to fight the stigma and discrimination often associated with this disease.

Kiri Kiri and Chingu Sai, Korea

Kiri Kiri ("together" in Korean), founded in November 1994, has initiated a wide range of projects for the lesbian community, including counseling services through a drop-in office, support and thematic groups (for teens and for studying specific issues), internet chat rooms and virtual communities, social events, and book and magazine publication. It has formed coalitions with other progressive organizations to raise positive awareness of lesbian issues and to develop a common agenda. Chingu Sai ("between friends" in Korean) saw its establishment in 1993. It offers support to gay men in the coming out process through a hotline and regular discussion groups, educates gay men about HIV and AIDS, organizes against gay discrimination, raises public awareness, and participates in a wide array of efforts to raise public awareness about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered lives and to build partnerships with other movements.

Simon Nkoli (1957-1998), South Africa (Honorary Posthumous Award)

Simon Nkoli was known as an anti-apartheid activist, gay and lesbian rights activist and HIV/AIDS activist. One of the accused in the Delmas treason case, Simon spent four years in prison his fight against the Apartheid regime. While in prison, he fought homophobia and opened the hearts and minds of many of his fellow prisoners by coming out and educating them with patience and determination. Simon's struggle always highlighted the interconnectedness between different movements for social justice and human rights. Simon died of AIDS related causes November 30 1998, one day short of World AIDS Day.

1998 Awardees

Círculo Cultural Gay (CCG), Mexico

Círculo Cultural Gay (Mexico) is a nonprofit organization working since 1984 on issues of homophobic violence, violation of basic rights, sexual/sexuality education, cultural activism, and AIDS awareness, prevention, and education. CCG's annual art exhibit has become one of the most important annual cultural/political events in Mexico. The organization is best known for its high-profile, dangerous, and effective work with and on behalf of threatened and assassinated transvestites and gay men. When transvestites began turning up dead in 1991 in Chiapas, most of them shot by the same high-caliber bullets used by the police, CCG documented the killings, organized demonstrations, interested the international and national press, and gained the support of other groups and human rights organizations. CCG continues to document murders and other abuses and to press for the punishment of those responsible.

Dr. Tal Jarus-Hakak, Israel

Dr. Tal Jarus-Hakak (Israel) is a founding member and board member of CLAF (Community for Lesbian Feminists), which leads the public struggle for the equality and acceptance of lesbians in Israel. She is also a founding member of the first national lesbian magazine and the first lesbian traveling theater troupe in Israel. She is among the first lesbians to be represented in the Israeli media and has pushed for positive public visibility. In the past seven years, while raising three sons with her partner, she has put her private life on the line in advocating for single women and lesbian mothers. In 1996 Jarus-Hakak won a case before the Israeli Supreme Court, overturning regulations which discriminate against single women desiring artificial insemination.

Dédé Oetomo, Indonesia

Dédé Oetomo (Indonesia) has been an integral part of social justice movements in Indonesia and Southeast Asia for many years. Founding member of Lambda Indonesia (the first Indonesian gay and lesbian organization), HIV/AIDS educator, publisher of GAYa NUSANTARA magazine, coordinator for the Indonesian Lesbian and Gay Network (JLGI), prolific writer and human rights activist, Dédé Oetomo is also dedicated to ensuring that the movement continues to thrive beyond his own work. In November 1997, Mr. Oetomo was instrumental in organizing the third annual Indonesian Lesbian and Gay Conference, and was a major presence in mainstream coverage of the conference. He has been a member of the Council of Representatives of the Asia/Pacific Council of AIDS Service Organizations since 1994, and its secretary-general since 1997.

Nancy Cárdenas (1934-1994), Mexico (Honorary Posthumous Award)

Nancy Cárdenas (Mexico) was a writer, director, and actress, who in 1972 produced and directed the first play with homosexual content in Mexico: Los Chicos de la Banda (The Boys in the Band). She also wrote, produced, directed, and acted in three performances with lesbian content. After coming out in 1973 during a national talk show, Nancy became the most visible outspoken lesbian on behalf of the gay and lesbian movement in Mexico and helped to organize its first Pride March in 1979. A few days before her death from breast cancer, she completed a beautiful and erotic book of poetry on lesbian love.

Carlos Jáuregui (1958-1996), Argentina (Honorary Posthumous Award)

Carlos Jáuregui (Argentina) was at the forefront of the battle for civil and human rights for gays, lesbians, transvestites, and transsexuals in Argentina. He advocated peaceful resistance and authored La Homosexualidad en Argentina (1987) and various articles in both the national and international press. He was the founder of the Comunidad Homosexual Argentina and served as its president from its inception in 1984 to 1987. He brought the first AIDS discrimination case against the Argentinean government and filed suit against an Archbishop Cardinal for discriminatory statements against gays and lesbians. His last wish - to see an anti-discrimination clause included in the Buenos Aires Constitution - was realized less than two weeks after his death from AIDS-related complications.

1997 Awardees

Demet Demir, Turkey

Demir is a transsexual woman who served on the Turkish Human Rights Commission and has been politically active in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and HIV/AIDS communities for many years. Her activism has had a tremendous impact locally, nationally, and internationally. She has been imprisoned many times and specifically targeted by the police in Cihangir. In 1991 she became the first person in history to be taken as an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience due to persecution based on sexual orientation.

Genc Xhelaj, Albania,

Xhelaj is the founder and president of the first and only gay and lesbian organization in Albania. He was instrumental in the repeal of an anti-gay law which penalized same-sex acts between consenting adults with up to ten years imprisonment. Despite extreme governmental and societal oppression -- including police harassment and the loss of his job -- and more recently, the onslaught of civil unrest, Xhelaj has continued to be actively involved in gay and lesbian activism in Albania.

The Sister Namibia Collective, Namibia

The Collective is dedicated to protecting the human rights of women of all ages, races, and cultures. It publishes a multicultural feminist magazine, Sister Namibia, which is the first vehicle in Namibia which offers space for lesbians and gays to express their views. In a country where there are no publicly visible homosexual organizations, Sister Namibia is an important forum for dialogue on women's sexualities and the civil and political rights of homosexuals. The Sister Namibia Collective has established itself as a recognized and reliable source of information, and its dedication to feminist politics allows for the strategic joint interrogation of gender and sexuality.

Wilfredo Valencia Palacios, El Salvador (Honorable Mention)

After fleeing El Salvador's brutal civil war, Wilfredo Valencia Palacios returned to continue fighting the important struggle of securing human rights for the gay, lesbian and bisexual community. Despite death threats, Palacios continues to defend the rights of sexual minorities and sex workers, and their access to information on HIV prevention. His courage in confronting homophobia has empowered others to continue fighting for the rights of sexual minorities in El Salvador.

1995 Awardees

The Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Group (TGLRG), Australia

The TGLRG's campaign to overturn Tasmania's anti-gay laws took them to the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva, where they filed a complaint. This resulted in a written decision at the highest level of international law acknowledging that laws against private consensual homosexual sex violate basic human rights.

Anjaree, Thailand

Anjaree is a lesbian rights organization in Thailand which has existed since 1986 with over 350 members. Anjaree organized the first Asian Lesbian Network (ALN) conference in 1990 in Bangkok and was instrumental in the formation of the ALN.

Luiz Mott, Brazil

An anthropologist and long-time activist, Mott founded Grupo Gay de Bahia in 1980. His tireless organizing, research, and documentation has been instrumental in bringing visibility to homophobic attitudes and violence in Brazil. In his research, Mott discovered Felipa de Souza, a Brazilian woman convicted and tortured by the Portuguese Inquisition in 1591 for having sexual relationships with other women.

1994 Awardees

Juan Pablo Ordoñez, Colombia

Ordoñez is a civil right attorney from Bogotá who survived an attempt on his life by a paramilitary death squad for being gay and investigating the murders of "disposable persons" including sexual minorities. At great risk he continued to work in Colombia and founded a new human rights organization there, Proyecto Dignidad, dedicated to exposing violations against the rights of "the disposable." In 1995 he co-published a book with OutRight Action International, No Human Being Is Disposable: Social Cleansing, Human Rights, and Sexual Orientation in Colombia.

ABIGALE, South Africa

ABIGALE is a black lesbian, gay, and bisexual rights organization. ABIGALE organized the first gay pride march and film festival in Cape Town in December, 1993 and provide HIV education for Africans in the townships. ABIGALE worked in a coalition that gained legal protection for lesbians and gay men in the South African constitution, making South Africa the first country in the world to constitutionally prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Lepa Mladjenovic, Belgrade

Mladjenovic is a lesbian feminist activist who co-founded the first Serbian lesbian and gay rights organization, Arkadia. Mladjenovic has been working as an openly lesbian activist in the women's movement and the peace movement throughout the war, specifically working with women and children victims of the war.