Meet the nominees for PinkNews Campaigner of the Year 2017

A gay kiss at Pride in London

The PinkNews Awards takes place on 18 October 2017 at a central London location.

The event recognises the important contributions by politicians, community groups, campaigners, businesses and broadcasters towards improving LGBT+ life at home and abroad.

The Campaigner of the Year Award aims to recognise individual campaigners who day-to-day work to improve the lives of LGBT+ people in the UK and abroad.

The shortlist is available to view below, along with a form to rank your favourites.

Seyran AtesFounder of the Ibn Rushd-Goethe inclusive mosque in Berlin

Ates founded the Liberal Mosque in Berlin, which was the subject of heavy criticism for allowing female imams, unsegregated worship and the inclusion of LGBT people.

She was later placed under 24/7 police protection for leading the mosque and said she had received death threats.

Ates didn’t let that deter her, however; and says she now wants to open a new site in London.

She continues to campaign for inclusive worship and against anti-LGBT attitudes in Islam.

Jonny BenjaminMental health campaigner, founder of the ‘Find Mike’ campaign

Jonny Benjamin

Back in January 2008, Jonny Benjamin was stood on London’s Waterloo Bridge, considering jumping to take his own life. He had been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder at age 20, the same year he considered taking his own life.

But Neil Laybourn asked him to go for a coffee, saying “things will get better”, meaning Benjamin never went through with taking his life.

Benjamin was eight years later reunited with Laybourn after launching the ‘Find Mike’ campaign, as he thought his name was Mike, and last year ran the 26.2 miles of the London Marathon.

They ran in aid of the Heads Together mental health charity and were invited by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry to run for their cause.

He continues to campaign for mental health awareness, against gay ‘cure’ therapies and LGBT issues.

Susie Green – CEO of Mermaids trans charity

Susie Green

Mermaids won a PinkNews Award for Community Group of the Year back in 2016, and Green returns as a nominee for Campaigner of the Year this year.

Green was a trustee of Mermaids for ten years, its chair for 3 years and took over as CEO back in January 2016.

Her organisation has in the past year been extremely visible in fighting to protect and support trans young people and their families.

She also publicly supported her trans daughter Jackie, who was the of a documentary about her transition after she hoped to be the first out trans Miss England.

Mermaids also this year stood strong in the face of opposition from right-wing campaigners who accused the group of “bullying”.

Lewis OakleyBisexual campaigner – PinkNews and contributor

Oakley is a bisexual campaigner who spends his time raising awareness and visibility of the bisexual community.

He has been published in a number of publications including PinkNews and

The campaigner often draws on his personal experiences of living as a bisexual man in London for his columns.

One of his articles came in the form of a love letter to his accepting girlfriend, and another called on biphobic hate crimes to be treated separately from anti-gay ones.

Phyll Opoku-Gyimah (Lady Phyll) – co-founder and trustee of UK Black Pride

Lady Phyll is the co-founder and trustee of UK Black Pride.

She campaigns for more visibility for LGBT people of colour at Pride events.

Lady Phyll sits on the TUC race relations committee and is currently trustee of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights charity, Stonewall.

In 2013 UK Black Pride teamed up with Pride in London as a charity partner, but this year said that Pride in London refused to meet with Black Pride delegates.

Back in 2016 Lady Phyll turned down an MBE, saying that LGBT persecution continues and it would be wrong for her to accept it while it is ongoing.

Edwin Sesange Co-founder of the Out and Proud African LGBTI.

Based in London, Edwin Sesange is one of the founders and most active campaigners for the Out and Proud African LGBTI (formerly the Out and Proud Diamond Group).

The organisation fights to achieve LGBT+ equality in African countries and to expose injustices against LGBT+ people all around the world.

Sesange personally campaigns on behalf of people who may be deported back to countries where they may be persecuted for their gender identity or sexual orientation.

He has written for a number of publications including PinkNews to urge bodies like the UK Home Office not to put people in danger through fast-tracked deportations.

Click here for the form to vote for your favourites for the PinkNews Awards 2017

Click here for the full shortlist of nominees in all categories.

The PinkNews Awards is generously supported by Lloyds Banking Group

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