Honoring Judge Karen Atala's Relentless Battle for Justice and Representative Baldwin's Leadership for LGBT Rights

Press Release

Media Contacts:
Roberta Sklar, rkslar@iglhrc.org, 917-704-6358
Brian Tofte-Schumacher, brian@iglhrc.org, 212-430-6015

"IGLHRC departs from the traditional human rights model by not only teaching LGBT communities how to document their tragedy but how to celebrate their resilience. From North to South, from East to West, we LGBT people are not just victims; we are survivors!"
— Jessica Stern, Acting Executive Director, IGLHRC

(New York, July 20)—The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has each year since 1994, honored individuals and organizations making a significant, lasting, and heroic impact on the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people worldwide. On July 16, IGLHRC bestowed honors on two extraordinary leaders, Chilean Judge Karen Atala and U.S. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin.

Photo by Kena Lorenzini.

Judge Karen Atala, Felipa de Souza Honoree: After an eight-year custody battle with the State of Chile, Judge Atala won the first-ever Inter-American Court ruling to protect individuals from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Judge Atala spoke movingly of the road to this victory. "The recent Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling against the state of Chile is without a doubt a cure for my family and for thousands of lesbian mothers and gay fathers not only in Chile but also in Latin America and the Caribbean," she said. "A great precedent has been set that without a doubt will inspire internal jurisprudence. It is history happening, since it is the first case that made it to the Inter-American system that refers to one's right to sexual diversity, with a goal of getting a progressive interpretation of human rights."

Suzanne Goldberg, Columbia University Law Professor and longtime rights advocate, presenting the award to Judge Atala said: "This historic ruling is a victory for Judge Atala and LGBT Chileans as well as for LGBT people throughout the Americas…[it is] one of the great LGBT civil rights and human rights victories.

Photo by Syd London.

Representative Tammy Baldwin, the first woman elected to Congress in Wisconsin and the first openly gay challenger ever elected to the U.S. Congress, is an ardent supporter of LGBT rights nationally and internationally. Upon receiving the award, Rep. Baldwin said: "Fueled by the courage of people like Karen Atala and Val Kalende, the faith and support of all of you and allies around the world, and the efforts of IGLHRC, the fire for human rights for LGBT people burns more brightly than ever."

NYC Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, an outspoken advocate for equality in presenting the Special Recognition Award to Rep. Baldwin said: "In listening to the work [IGLHRC] is supporting, around the world, in particular about the struggle of transgender and cross-dressing individuals… It really made me think abouts…the fact that we have not yet been able to get the New York State Senates…to pass the GENDA Act to bring transgender [protection] into our state laws. So what you're doing around the world, in addition to helping people around the world, is critical to our work right here at home in this state and in this country. So thank you for that. As Jessica said, if we're really going to get to a place where we really have full equality, it needs to be an international movement."

Jessica Stern, Acting Executive Director, IGLHRC, introduced by Todd Larson, Board Co-chair, said "IGLHRC departs radically from the traditional human rights model by not only teaching LGBT communities how to document their tragedy but how to celebrate their resilience. From North to South, from East to West, we LGBT people are not just victims: we are survivors."

Dorothy Sander, IGLHRC Board Co-chair introduced the 2012 Inaugural Class of the Paula Ettelbrick Fellows and Interns Fund.Maulik Pancholy, star of NBC's "Whitney and "30 Rock" and Showtime's "Weeds," the evening's host, closed with a personal reflection on the condition of LGBT individuals and human rights defenders around the world, calling for increased support for IGLHRC's work to improve the safety and dignity of LGBT lives worldwide.

The event held at the Art Directors Club, NYC, was filled to capacity with LGBT activists, global human rights defenders, city, state, federal and international elected officials and representatives, and members of national and international NGOs.

View photos and a recording of the live stream video of the full program»

Read the remarks of Tammy Baldwin, Karen Atala (English / Español),
Suzanne Goldberg, and Jessica Stern.