The significant work done in our Communities in Asia, sometimes in very challenging circumstances, is very often overlooked and it’s great to see this work being recognised.
Standing for HIV, Equality and Rights, the HERO Awards acknowledges outstanding service to the HIV response in Asia and the Pacific, and to the region’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities. Over 300 people attended the gala World AIDS Day event at the British Embassy in Bangkok which raised over US$20,000 for the Bangkok-based APCOM Foundation, a leading NGO which works to fight HIV and advance LGBT health and rights across the Asia Pacific region. The Awards were supported by a range of corporate sponsors, community organisations and diplomatic missions.
The award recipients came from Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Oceania, Malaysia, India and Japan were selected from 24 finalists who were chosen from over 200 nominations that were received from across the region. Among the winners was one of Asia’s leading LGBT rights campaigners Jean Chong from Singapore who was named Community Hero for 20 years of exceptional service. India’s esteemed transgender activist Simran Shaikh was named Transgender Hero for over 20 years of dedicated service to transgender rights and health. The HIV Hero award went to Vietnam’s Nguyen Anh Phong for 10 year of service as an outstanding HIV activist and care provider.
Australia’s Ken Moala was deemed Social Justice Hero for his pioneering LGBT advocacy across Oceania while Dr Yogi Prasetia from Indonesia was declared the Health & Wellbeing Hero for his outstanding work with gay men and other people affected by HIV in Bali. Thailand’s Surang Janyam received the Community Ally Award for protecting the health and rights of female and male sex workers in Thailand, and Malaysia’s PT Foundation was recognized with the Community Organisation Award for providing exceptional support for people affected by HIV. The Young Achiever Award went to Justin Francis Bionat from the Philippines.
Japanese politician and LGBT health and rights advocate Taiga Ishikawa received the Shivananda Khan Award for Extraordinary Achievement following 20 years of groundbreaking activism. The award, presented by APCOM, is named after the late Shivananda Khan, APCOM’s founder and a pioneering hero of the Asia Pacific response to HIV and LGBT health and rights.
Details of the award recipients are below:
HERO Awards Winners
Community Hero: Jean Chong (Singapore)
Jean has dedicated over 20 years to delivering outstanding LGBT advocacy in Singapore, across the Asia Pacific region and around the world.Jean Chong has been an LGBTQ activist for 20 years. She first started in her activism by volunteering with a gay Christian support network, Safehaven, and became their first female vice chairperson. Subsequently, she was a founding member of an inclusive church, Free (First Realize Everyone is Equal) Community Church and served as first their chairperson. Looking to expand her horizons in helping others, she went on to be a part of the core team of a LGBT federation, People Like Us in Singapore. Soon after, Jean co-founded Sayoni in 2007, a queer women’s organization based in Singapore who organise, does research and advocate for equality in well-being and dignity regardless of SOGIESC. In 2011 and 2017, Jean led a team of representatives to CEDAW and as a result, for the first time in 2011 for the Asia Pacific region (and 2017), specific recommendations addressing the discrimination of LGTQ women were included as part of the concluding observations. Sayoni takes on an intersectional, feminist-centric and collaborative approach in nurturing and empowering LGBT persons while reinforcing their autonomy and self-determination. On the regional level, she is currently a part of the Steering Committee of the ASEAN SOGIE Caucus, a regional network of South East Asia LGBTIQ groups lobbying for the inclusion of LGBTIQ rights in the ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism. She also serves as the Asia Consultant for Astraea Lesbian Foundation and is currently a part of the Asia team of OutRight Action International.
Transgender Hero: Simran Shaikh(India)
Simran is an influential and high-profile transgender rights activist with over 20 years of service to improving the health and rights of transgender people in India.Simran, a Hijra (trans women) has dedicated her professional life to human rights advocacy. She has been a pioneer in India in raising the issues of people living with HIV (PLHIV) in the context of transgender and hijra communities. She is a strong advocate for right to health for all. Simran has developed the capacity of community-based organizations (CBOs) and networks that work for PLHIV and gender minorities. She has been a consultant to national and international organizations on issues of gender and sexual minorities living with HIV and intends to continue her work on health & human rights for the most marginalized communities in future. A graduate from Mumbai University currently pursuing her PHD in Trans Physiology, she currently works with India HIV/AIDS Alliance in New Delhi as a Project Lead for Wajood program, Amplify Change supported initiative strengthening Sexual Health of Trans community in five states. She is also the project lead for Prayas program, support by ViiV Health Care Foundation a research based intervention on awareness and preparedness of PrEP among transgender women in India. She is also the president of Impulse India (sister concern of AIDS Health Care Foundation) and is also leading a chamber of commerce for LGBTQI people in India.
HIV Hero: Nguyen Anh Phong (Vietnam)
Nguyen Anh Phong is an exceptional HIV activist and care provider with over 10 years of service to people with HIV in Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam. In 2012, Phong joined the people living with HIV Friendship Network of Southern Vietnam as a member of its executive board. Since then, he has devoted his life to helping the LGBT community and PLHIV, as a role model, activist and caregiver. His primary role is serving as the coordinator of the Southern Office for the Vietnam Network of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) (VNP+). In addition, he consults with PATH, FHI 360 and local government. He is also a counselor at Pasteur institute, in HCMC and an advocate for U=U. In the past, he has led many projects related to HIV together with the Global Fund and Care Vietnam. He has cultivated a strong network of key opinion leaders and stars in Vietnam, and strategically leverages them to bring more resources and focus to key areas of need. He has done this for the last three years through the nationally acclaimed Red Ribbon awards which he initiated, sourced funding for and organized. These events bring thousands of people together and results in thousands of dollars raised to assist struggling and vulnerable children and adults living with or affected by HIV. In 2017, he established My Home Clinic, a community-led pharmacy and medical center, dedicated to addressing HIV and STIs issues for PLHIV. The clinic provides access to high-quality services, rapid testing, HIV PrEP and PEP, screening and treatment of STIs, and counseling and adherence support.
Social Justice Hero: Ken Moala (Oceania)
Ken Moala is trailblazing advocate for LGBT health and rights with over 25 years of outstanding activism to advance the rights of LGBT people across Oceania. Originally from the Samoa Islands, Ken founded the Samoa AIDS Foundation in 2005. From this organisation a group for people living with HIV known as the Samoa Plus was formed. Ken co-founded the Pacific Sexual & Gender Diversity Network (PSGDN) in 2007 which is a Pacific region-wide network of organisations that represents the interests of the LGBTIQ Community of which he is currently Advisor. Ken was a founding elder of the Samoa Fa’afafine Association which advocates for Law Reform for the removal of archaic colonial laws impacting on the Fa’afafine and LGBTIQ Communities in Samoa. Ken is currently a Board member of the ILGA Oceania Board and a founding member for the Global Interfaith Network for LGBTIQ People of Faith. Ken is currently a board member of the Uniting Church Network of Australia (UNA) for LGBTIQ people.
Health & Wellbeing Hero: Dr Yogi Prasetia (Indonesia)
Dr Yogi Prasetia has delivered over 10 years of outstanding clinical service and support to gay men, men who have sex with men and other people affected by HIV in Bali in Indonesia. Since 2010 he has headed up Bali Medika, a clinic for men who have sex with men in Bali. Prior to this position, he was a Medical Doctor with the SOS Clinic and Men Health Clinic Sanglah and a Medical Consultant for the It’s My Life Club and Proyekcinta websites for MSM in Indonesia. He has also been a consultant for the MSM programs run by Indonesia’s National AIDS Commission and East Timor’s Ministry of Health.
Community Ally Award: Surang Janyam (Thailand)
Surang has delivered over 15 years of outstanding service dedicated to improving the health and rights of female and male sex workers in Thailand, especially in relation to HIV. In 2004 Surang founded the Service Workers in Group Foundation (SWING), which is a registered non-governmental organization established in which aim to protect the rights of sex workers in Thailand. In Bangkok and Pattaya, SWING is providing community-led HIV services, life skills training and non-formal education as well as rights protection services for sex workers of all genders. SWING was granted the Civil Society Partnerships Awards by PEPFAR in 2016. It has been also recognized by Global AIDS community as one organization significantly contributing to the successfulness in responding to HIV of Thailand and Bangkok.
Community Organisation Award: PT Foundation (Malaysia)
PT Foundation is a pioneering and internationally respected provider of care, support, education and advocacy for people affected by HIV in Malaysia.PT Foundation is committed to creating a Malaysia that is free of HIV and AIDS. It is the leading community-based organization in Malaysia working with key affected populations on HIV and AIDS, gender identity and sexual health. PT Foundation offers comprehensive awareness, prevention, support and care, and advocacy services, working with key affected populations such as sex workers, trans women, gay men and other men-who-have-sex-with-men, people who use drugs, refugees and people living with HIV. Children of the key affected populations are also included in their services. Among the programs dedicated to the MSM population are the telephone counselling line, Internet Outreach, the Community Health Care Clinic and a treatment adherence and support program for MSM PLHIVs. Its international partners include the Global Fund, UNHCR, WHO, UNDP, APCOM, APCASO, amfAR and ViiV Healthcare. Local partners are the Ministry of Health, Malaysian AIDS Council, MAGIC, UPS and MAC Cosmetic.
Young Achiever Award: Justin Francis Bionat (Philippines)
Justin Francis is an outstanding LGBT activist with contributions to LGBT pride and visibility in the Philippines and across the Asia Pacific region.Justin Francis is a proud FIlipino by birth and blood. He is currently the project officer of Youth Voices Count, a network focused on young key affected populations and other sexual and gender minorities. He is also the LGBTQ representative of the United Nations Youth Advisory Board (UNYAB) Philippines. He is a fellow of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum. He is currently taking up his Masters in Human Rights and Democratisation at Mahidol University, Thailand. However, he is most proud of being one of the founders of the Iloilo Pride Team, a local community based organization in Iloilo City, Philippines. This organization is instrumental in organizing the yearly pride march and ensuring that grassroots organizing is given priority.
Shivananda Khan Award for Extraordinary Achievement: Taiga Ishikawa(Japan)
For 20 years of groundbreaking activism in Japan and across Asia, Mr Ishikawa became one of the first openly gay male politicians in Japanese history when he was elected as a Toshima ward city assembly member in Tokyo in 2011 and was the first openly gay candidate for leadership of a parliamentary party when he contested the chairmanship of the Social Democratic Party in 2013. He has campaigned tirelessly over many years for LGBT rights, achieving many successes such as allowing Japanese citizens to marry foreign nationals of the same sex in countries where same-sex marriage is legal. In 2004 he also founded Peer Friends, an organisation which helps reduce social isolation among young LGBT people in Japan. He also skillfully uses media and public events throughout the Asia Pacific region to focus attention on the need for LGBT law reform in Japan and throughout the Asia Pacific region.