LGBT Rights: Advocacy Chief Wins Dutch Award

Published: May 21, 2013

(Amsterdam) – Boris Dittrich, advocacy director for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Rights Program at Human Rights Watch has been awarded the Dutch government’s prestigious Jos Brink State Prize for 2013. Jet Bussemaker, Dutch minister of education, culture and science, presented the award to Dittrich in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to LGBT emancipation during the last 30 years, in the presence of the high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay. The ceremony was held in Diligentia theater in The Hague on May 17 – the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

Dittrich, a former member of the Dutch parliament, proposed a bill to legalize same sex-marriage in 1994. After years of debate, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to do so, in 2001. As a member of parliament he took many other initiatives, ranging from adoption of children by same-sex couples to registration of hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

At Human Rights Watch since 2007, he has traveled the world, contacting local human rights defenders, pressing leaders to decriminalize homosexual conduct, introduce anti-discrimination legislation including sexual orientation and gender identity as non-discrimination grounds and improve their policies for LGBT people.

In his acceptance speech, Dittrich paid homage to LGBT activists throughout the world who work in difficult and dangerous circumstances, and he dedicated the state award to straight allies.

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