Sir Ian McKellen has presented this year’s David Kato Vision and Voice Award to an activist who successfully battled to overturn Belize’s anti-gay laws.
The David Kato Vision and Voice Award is presented every year in memory of murdered Ugandan LGBT campaigner David Kato.
This year, the award was presented by veteran actor and LGBT activist Sir Ian McKellen at the annual fundraising gala dinner of the Kaleidoscope Trust, which campaigns for equality for LGBT people around the world.
Belizean activist Caleb Orozco was recognised with the honour, winning from a shortlist of five activists from Iraq, Nigeria, Kenya and Kyrgyzstan.
In 2006 Caleb Orozco co-founded Belize’s only LGBT-led campaign group, the United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM), which brought legal action to challenge the country’s anti-gay sodomy law.
Sir Ian praised the activist’s “bravery” and resilience in the face of adversity – embracing him as he presented the award.
After a battle spanning several years, the colonial-era law was finally struck down earlier this year, after a ruling from Belize’s Supreme Court.
Mr Orozco said: “The award is not about me, but about the aspirations of my community and the sacrifices and support they have shown in overcoming bigotry and taking on our opponents.
“I am hopeful awareness of the award will inspire more of my community to be publicly visible and to be proud about who they are. We hope we can inspire other LGBT activists that change is possible especially in a difficult political environment.
John Fingleton, Chair of the Board of Trustees at the Kaleidoscope Trust, commented: “Despite great personal hardship and threats to his safety, Caleb has never faltered. He has remained courageous, strong, out and proud throughout his battle for justice and equality.”
“Hosting the David Kato Voice and Vision Award Secretariat is one of the concrete ways in which the Kaleidoscope Trust can recognise and support LGBT activists around the world, many of whom are campaigning at great personal risk.”
The Supreme Court case, which established a precedent that may help activists fighting sodomy laws in other countries, had the support of the University of the West Indies Rights Advocacy Project, the International Commission of Jurists, the Commonwealth Lawyers’ Association and the Human Dignity Trust.
Though the government accepted the majority of the ruling, an alliance of religious groups has filed an appeal against the judgement.
Disclosure: PinkNews is proud to be the media partner for the Kaleidoscope Trust Gala Dinner 2017.