Next year, for the first time, the Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Media Awards will include LGBT media.

At its annual Los Angeles summer cocktail fundraiser yesterday, GLAAD President Neil G. Giuliano announced the change in policy and unveiled the four dates and venues for the 19th Annual GLAAD Media Awards taking place in 2008.

The GLAAD Media Awards recognise and honour media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and the issues that affect their lives.

“With the expansion of cable channels and niche programming, LGBT created and consumed media is more readily available than ever before,” Mr Giuliano said.

“Our Board has decided to incorporate LGBT media submissions into the existing competitive categories.

“We welcome the opportunity for LGBT media to submit their journalism and programming for consideration.”

Events will be held in March, April and May in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and South Florida.

“Fair, accurate and inclusive media images of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people change hearts and minds,” commented Mr Giuliano.

“The GLAAD Media Awards are our way of recognising the outstanding work of journalists and entertainers who share the truth of our lives and our stories.”

Among winners last year were Project Runway, which took outstanding reality TV show; independent film Quinceanera, the story of a pregnant teenager who is taken in by her gay cousin, was named best-limited release film and the documentary award went to HBO’s popular programme about entertainer Rosie O’Donell’s chartered cruise for gay families, All Aboard! Rosie’s Family Cruise.

News show Nightline, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and columnist Frank Rich were also honoured with awards.

GLAAD campaigns for fair representation for LGBT across the American media.