Late defender of human rights, Jonathan Cooper, honoured by Keir Starmer at PinkNews Awards 2022

Jonathan Cooper OBE

Jonathan Cooper OBE, the late human rights lawyer, was honoured with the Lifetime of Achievement Award at the PinkNews Awards 2022.

Labour leader Keir Starmer presented the award, which was accepted by Cooper’s husband Kevin Childs, at the ceremony on Wednesday (19 October).

Throughout his career, Cooper fought relentlessly to defend the human rights of LGBTQ+ people around the world.

He spearheaded the 2012 landmark case that challenged Jamaica’s colonial-era “buggery” laws in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, represented a lesbian couple in their battle to legalise same-sex marriage in the Cayman Islands, fought against horrific homophobic laws in Uganda, and pushed for LGBTQ+ inclusion in the Church of England, among endless other achievements.

He died suddenly in 2021, aged 58.

“To many of us, Johnny was a unique bundle of energy, fun and love, to know Johnny was to hold him tight on a journey of life,” Starmer said.  

Keir Starmer. (PinkNews Awards 2022)

“Johnny was the most passionate force of nature many of us have ever known, with a very deep sense of justice and injustice that couldn’t be confined to the law.”

“We celebrate him, but I have to say if he were here now he would say: ‘Keir say something about the ongoing battle for justice and equality’. That campaigning never stopped for Jonathan, but there’s always room for hope.”

Starmer continued: “In recent years we’ve seen homosexuality decimalised in Angola, Botswana, equal marriage legalised in Costa Rica, Chile and Switzerland. We all know there’s much, much more to do. In 69 countries around the world LGBTQ+ people are still prosecuted because of who they are and who they love.”

Cooper’s husband Kevin Childs accepted the award, and said he was one of the most “inspiration people” he has ever met. 

Keir Starmer and Kevin Childs. (PinkNews Awards 2022)

“He inspired other people… he loved the issues and he loved the people behind the issues as well. It’s that passion that you need if you’re willing to succeed.” 

The PinkNews Awards 2022 is supported by joint headline sponsors Lloyds Banking Group and United Airlines