9th annual GALAS celebrate outstanding contributions to the LGBT+ community

The 9th annual GALAS, celebrating the outstanding contributions of people nationally and internationally to the LGBT+community took place Sat, Feb 8th at the Mansion House with GAA referee David Gough, political representative Katherine Zappone, sociologist and LGBT+ rights activist Evgeny Shtorn and the INTO (Irish National Teachers Organisation) among this year’s recipients.

The awards were co-hosted by Anne Doyle, former RTÉ broadcaster and journalist along with James Kavanagh, writer, presenter and social media influencer.

The GALAS were established in 2009 by the National LGBT Federation (NXF) and Gay Community News (GCN) to honour those who work towards a better future for LGBT+ people in Ireland and across the globe.

Sixteen awards (two of which were decided by public vote) were announced and presented to organisations and individuals for their contributions in areas such as arts, media, culture, health, social inclusion, sport, politics, advocacy and public life.

Evgeny Shtorn was announced as recipient of the GALAS Person of the Year award. The Kazakhstan born sociologist and LGBT+ activist was forced to leave Russia in 2018 and seek asylum in Ireland. He has been a vocal opponent of the Direct Provision system and in particular the treatment of LGBT+ people while in Direct Provision.

GAA referee David Gough picked up the Sports Award of the Year. Gough made history in 2019 by becoming the first openly gay man to referee a senior All Ireland Football final.
He also played a key role in the participation of the GAA in the Dublin Pride Parade; the first time the organisation accepted an invitation to march in the history of Dublin Pride.

Political representative Katherine Zappone, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs since 2016 was named as the LGBT+ Public Figure (following a public vote) for her contribution to furthering LGBT+ issues in the political domain while Sara R Phillips, Chairperson of TENI (Trans Equality Network Ireland) was honoured with the LGBT+ Role Model award.

The INTO (Irish National Teachers Organisation) campaign Different Families; Same Love which sought to celebrate the diversity of people and families in Ireland and to address homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools was chosen as the GALAS Event of the Year.

The Dublin chapter of ACT UP, an organisation committed to ending the HIV/AIDS crisis received the Noel Walsh HIV Activism Award.

Community organisation Shout Out, which focuses on fostering inclusion through education and sharing personal stories and the Dublin Lesbian Line, a confidential support line, were honoured with the Community Organisation of the Year awards for paid and voluntary staff respectively.

Dr Aintzane Legarreta Mentxaka (‘Maken’), a writer and academic based at the American College, Dublin was named as the Volunteer of the Year while Holly Shortall was named as the LGBT+ Ally. Shortall has been a strong advocate for LGBT+ rights, formerly with ACT UP and now in her new role with Manchester Pride.

The LGBT+ Young Trailblazer award went to Cork woman Esther Young while Alexís Ríva was honoured as the LGBT+ Young Digital Change Maker.

Bank of Ireland and Arthur Cox were the recipients of the LGBT+ Employee Resource and Outstanding Company awards respectively.

The International Award jointly supported by Amnesty International, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and Front Line Defenders went to Nayyab Ali, a transgender rights defender from Pakistan and Chairperson of the All Pakistan Transgender Election Network.

Caroline Keane, Chair of the NXF said:

“The GALAS saw us gather with friends and allies to celebrate and acknowledge the everyday heroes who are doing amazing work to improve the lives of LGBT+ people in Ireland and internationally. We have gained inspiration and affirmation from the GALAS, and we hope it will energise our community and allies to continue to work towards a fairer society for all marginalised groups.

The GALAS was also the culmination of months of preparation by volunteers and supporters, and we appreciate the efforts of everyone involved in making it such a wonderful event”.

Lisa Connell, Managing Editor, GCN said:

“The GALAS provide a platform to acknowledge, nationally and internationally, the ongoing commitment and dedication of people, in Ireland and all over the world, who make enormous contributions to the LGBT+ community by striving tirelessly in their efforts to build a fairer and more inclusive society”.

This year’s GALAS event also marked the celebration of the 40th birthday of the NXF, which was founded in 1979. Previous chairs of the organisation including founder David Norris, Eamon Somers, Tonie Walsh, Ailbhe Smyth, Olivia McEvoy and current chair Caroline Keane were honoured on the night.

The full list of recipients of the 2020 GALAS are as follows:
Community Organisation (Paid Staff) sponsored by LinkedIn
Shout Out
Community Organisation: (Volunteer Staff) sponsored by Dublin Bus
Dublin Lesbian Line
Volunteer of the Year sponsored by TENI
Dr Aintzane Legarreta Mentxaka (‘Maken’)
Event of the Year sponsored by Conway Communications
Different Families, Same Love (INTO)
LGBT+ Young Trailblazer sponsored by Fostering First Ireland
Esther Young
LGBT+ Digital Changer Maker sponsored by Facebook
Alexis Riva
Sports Awards sponsored by Guinness
David Gough
Noel Walsh, HIV Activism sponsored by the Dept of Justice and Equality
LGBT+ Ally sponsored by Dublin Pride
Holly Shortall
Outstanding Company sponsored by Irish Life
Arthur Cox
LGBT+ Employee Resource Group sponsored by BELONG TO
Bank of Ireland with Pride Committee
LGBT+ Role Model sponsored by Tesco
Sara R Phillips
International Award jointly supported by Amnesty International, Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Front Line Defenders
Nayyab Ali (Pakistan)
Public Figure sponsored by Vodafone (*voted on by the public)
Katherine Zappone
Entertainment & Arts sponsored by Google (*voted on by the public)
Acting Out- The Decriminalisation Monologues
Person of the Year sponsored by HIV Ireland
Evgeny Shtorn


Pakistani trans activist Nayyab Ali wins GALAS International Activist Award

Nayyab Ali was announced as the recipient of the GALAS International Activist Award at a ceremony in Dublin, on Saturday, Feb 8th.

The award, presented by the National LGBT Federation (NXF), recognises the contribution of an international LGBT+ activist, from outside of Ireland, who works tirelessly to promote the full equality and inclusion of LGBT+ people in society.

Nayyab is a trans woman from Pakistan, an acid attack survivor, trans activist and the founder and chairperson of the All Pakistan Transgender Election Network. She also manages the ‘Khawaja Sira Community Centre’ in Okara, which offers a basic literacy and numeracy programme, vocational training, life skills education and driving classes for the transgender community.

In 2018, Nayyab was one of the four transgender candidates who ran for Pakistan’s general elections and the first to do it with political affiliations. She has been a member of the Transgender Task Force reviewing the Transgender Rights Protection bill, and has contributed to several other initiatives reviewing laws and policies affecting transgender people. Nayyab is also co-chair of Ending Violence Against Women & Girls Alliance Pakistan- the first trans woman to chair any alliance of women in the Muslim world.

The GALAS ceremony was held in the Mansion House – a site of historical significance as the venue to host the first Irish Parliament in 1919. The awards were co-hosted by Anne Doyle, former RTÉ broadcaster and journalist along with James Kavanagh, writer, presenter and social media influencer.

The GALAS International Activist Award is sponsored by the NXF, Front Line Defenders, Amnesty International Ireland and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties.

Nominees for the GALAS International Activist Award included Syinat Sultanalieva from Kyrgyzstan, Zhanar Sekerbayeva from Kazakhstan and Gilmara Cunha from Brazil.

Caroline Keane, Chairperson of the NXF said:

“Nayyab Ali has not only played an important role in empowering and building the capacity of trans people in Pakistan, but she has also taken the courageous step of bringing her struggle for justice to the political level, fighting for legislative reform in a challenging context.

We stand in solidarity with Nayyab and the nominees Gilmara, Syinat and Zhanar. We salute their unwavering determination to bring about positive change for the LGBT+ community in their countries”.

In a video message broadcast at the ceremony, Nayyab Ali said:

“It is a great honour for me to have been recognised for my commitment to make Pakistan a safe society for gender and sexual minorities. Being the first Pakistani transgender to receive the GALAS International Activist Award I appreciate this initiative as such international endorsements help our community to gain recognition”.

Established in 2009 by the NXF and Gay Community News (GCN) the GALAS honour those who work towards a better future for LGBT+ people in Ireland and across the globe