The 2010 recipient of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission's Felipa de Souza Award is Colombia Diversa. IGLHRC’s Felipa de Souza Award recognizes the courage and effectiveness of groups or leaders dedicated to improving the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) and other individuals stigmatized and abused because of their sexuality or HIV status.
Based in Bogotá, Colombia Diversa is an NGO that works for lesbian, gay, bisexuals, and transgender human rights in Colombia. Colombia Diversa has improved the lives of Colombian LGBT people through a variety of channels, working effectively in political, social, cultural and academic spheres. They have produced human rights reports and training materials for journalists, teachers, and government officials, created an on-line virtual LGBT community and implemented wide-ranging advocacy campaigns to achieve legislative change.
A group of LGBT activists formed Colombia Diversa in 2003 after years of collaborative work. The founding members of Colombia Diversa wanted to create an organization that would consistently work for LGBT rights with established long-term goals, substantial resources and a dedicated team of professionals. Since that time, Colombia Diversa has accumulated a number of significant achievements, including a successful 2007 campaign in partnership with the University of Los Andes to convince the Constitutional Court of Colombia to recognize the marriage rights of same sex couples. The organization has also published the first LGBT human rights report distributed on a large scale within Colombian governmental agencies and established the first community centre for LGBT people in Latin America in partnership with PROFAMILIA and Theatron.
The Felipa Award embodies the spirit of Felipa de Souza, who endured persecution and brutality after proudly declaring her intimacy with a woman during a 16th Century inquisition trial in Brazil. Nominations for the award are solicited each year from activists around the world. Nominees go through a rigorous review by the staff, board and the International Advisory Committee of IGLHRC.
Previous Felipa Award winners include:
- Helem, the first organization in the Arab world to set up a gay and lesbian community center;
- Andrés Ignacio Rivera Duarte;
- the Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO);
- the Blue Diamond Society (BDS) of Nepal;
- Rauda Morcos, founder of ASWAT (Voices) the first group for Palestinian lesbians;
- Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), the first organization to push for the human rights of LGBT people in Zimbabwean society and to provide counseling services and HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns;
- Simon Tseko Nikoli, the famed LGBT/HIV activist from South Africa;
- Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays, whose leader Brian Williamson was murdered in 2004;
- Lohana Berkins, a globally recognized transgender activist from Argentina; and
- Maher Sabry, the Egyptian activist who notified IGLHRC of the arrests of the Cairo 52, a group of 52 men who were arrested by the Egyptian police at a Cairo gay nightclub in 2001.
The Felipa Award will be presented to Colombia Diversa as part of IGLHRC's A Celebration of Courage gala event on March 15, 2010 in New York and on March 18, 2010 in San Francisco.