Apple CEO Tim Cook given Free Speech Award for LGBT rights work

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has won The Newseum Institute’s Free Speech Award.

The first openly gay CEO on the Fortune 500 was handed the award for his protection of the First Amendment and support of LGBT rights.

In his acceptance speech, Cook spoke about the importance of the first amendment and freedom of speech in journalism and digital technologies.

“We [at Apple] know that these freedoms require protection.

“Not just the forms of speech that entertain us, but the ones that challenge us.

“The ones that unnerve and even displease us. They’re the ones that need protection the most.

“It’s no accident that these freedoms are enshrined and protected in the First Amendment. They are the foundation to so many of our rights.”

The Newseum Institute, a Washington DC-based nonprofit who support journalism and media, gave Cook the award this week for his work promoting First Amendment rights in data privacy issues.

He was recognised for speaking publicly in support of LGBT rights, the protection of the environment as well as his stand against racism.

In February, Cook hit out at President Trump’s Executive Order banning people from seven Muslim majority countries.

On Tuesday Cook spoke about the importance of digital technologies in helping people speak up and hold others accountable for injustice.

Tim Cook awarded for First Amendment protection

He reinforced the importance of listening to alternative opinions, experiences and arguments, not alternative facts.

“If democracy obligates us, in a sense, to express ourselves, it also demands that we listen to one another. That we stay informed, we act, and we participate.

“We owe it to ourselves to listen. We need to challenge our own thinking and in doing so allow that someone else may just be right.”

He called for people to be free to express their values and opinions: “When we are all willing to listen, to think, even to change our minds, thats how the arc of history bends towards justice.

“That’s how freedom continues its slow, brave march.”

Cook spoke publicly about his sexual orientation for the first time in 2014 saying, “I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”

Recipients of the Newseum Free Expression awards are recognised for taking personal and professional risks to protect the First Amendment.

The Free Expression awards are presented in five categories including Lifetime Achievement Award, Arts and Entertainment Award and Free Press Award.