The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) this week celebrated 20 years of advocacy work for gay, lesbian and HIV positive people in the developing world.

For two decades the organisation has campaigned for, and worked alongside, local GLBT groups from Africa, Asia, the Pacific and Latin America to eliminate discriminatory laws, promote equality and reduce violence. The IGLHRC continues to campaign for the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the 80 countries where it is still considered a crime.

The organisation commemorated its birthday with a ceremony to honour people who have made significant contributions to the progress of GLBT rights over the past year.

The IGLHRC bestowed its annual Felipa de Souza Award for grassroots activism on the Colombian organisation Colombia Diversa. Started in 2003, the Bogota-based organisation has produced training materials and advocacy campaigns to promote rights. In 2009 it obtained equal legal status for same-sex couples in Colombia, and it continues to push for equal family and adoption rights.

Barney Frank — the US’ first openly gay congressman — received the special recognition award.

Elected to the US House of Representatives in 1980, Frank campaigned for the removal of immigration restrictions on HIV positive people, has pushed for the introduction of legislation to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual preference, and continues to challenge the US military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy.

The third major award recipient for the night was UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe who has spent over 20 years campaigning for global health initiatives. He continues to promote gay and lesbian rights across the globe as an important step in halting the spread of HIV/AIDS.

info: For more information on the IGLHRC and its campaigns visit www.iglhrc.org

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