Four Australian LGBTI rights activists have been honoured with human rights awards.
Marriage equality campaigner Ali Hogg, transgender rights activist Sally Goldner, gay Aboriginal activist Koby James and LGBTI suicide prevention advocate Alana Green each received a Bruce McGuinness Australian Human Rights Awards this week.
The awards, in their first year, are an initiative of new independent lobby group the Australian Mental Health, Human Rights and Law Reform Coalition to recognise excellence in the pursuit of human rights in the mental health sector.
Coalition convenor Greg Oke said the the four were recognised for their contribution to public discussion on human rights and mental health in the LGBTI community.
“They’ve all made an outstanding contribution to the GLBT community around mental health and human rights which we certainly see as very much linked,” Oke said.
“We’re concerned about the rights of the LGBT community, as we are with all marginalised communities, especially those disconnected from their families … that they don’t face homophobia or bullying.”
Twenty-six activists from a range of areas were recognised by the Coalition awards, especially those fighting for Aboriginal rights. The awards are named after Victorian Aboriginal rights activist, the late Bruce McGuinness. Oke said winners were nominated from the Coalition’s membership.
The Coalition has been in operation for the last three months and has 480 members, including US human rights lawyer and World Network of Survivors and Users of Psychiatry co-chair Tina Minkowitz.
It has been vocal in calling for a review of Victoria’s psychiatric facilities following the release of figures revealing high numbers of patient deaths in state-run and private psychiatric facilities.
Goldner, who spoke at a recent Coalition rally on transgender rights in mental health, told the Star Observer she was surprised but pleased to be recognised.
“[The rally] got people thinking about some of the things trans people have gone through in mental institutions,” she said.
Goldner said trans people still face discrimination in mental health services and was aware of a case in regional Victoria where a person was institutionalised for their sex and gender identity four years ago.
The awards come as Goldner, Hogg and Carl Katter, the gay half-brother of Queensland federal MP Bob Katter, were nominated in The Age Melbourne Magazine’s top 100 most influential and inspiring people in Melbourne.
“Even five years ago a trans person wouldn’t have been there,” Goldner said. “This clearly puts Melbourne on the map as a great world GLBTI city.”
On the list, Hogg came in number six, Goldner seven and Katter eight.
“I am grateful that the hard work we have put into fighting for a world without discrimination is being recognised,” Hogg said.