Sunday, 17 July 2011

Gay Exiles: The 2011 Gay Exiles' SOLDIER AWARD recipient - Gabi Calleja
by Antoine Spiteri on Saturday, July 9, 2011 at 2:01pm, Valletta

SOLDIER AWARD 2011 recipient

The Gay Exiles today awarded the 2011 "SOLDIER AWARD". A soldier is a member of the community who demonstrates an outstanding effort to foster equality. They are fearless fighters that stand tall in the face of adversity.

The recipients' work is as diverse and varied as the gay community itself. Soldiers exhibit heroism in the struggle against prejudice and discrimination, fighting for social justice in favour of the gay community- which includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, asexual and other sexual orientations. Our soldiers take on extraordinary challenges and achieve remarkable tasks.

The Soldier Award will be conferred annually to grassroots champions. This year's winner was awarded the recognition during this year's annual Gay Pride celebration just before the start of the march on July 9th, 2011 at 10.30a.m. in St George's Square, Valletta.
This year's winner is:

GABI CALLEJA, Malta Gay Rights Movement.
Youth and Community Worker and LGBTIA Rights Activist
Gay Exiles' SOLDIER AWARD 2011

About the Gay Exiles and the Soldier Award

Winners of the Soldier Award are selected through a voting system from nominations submitted by a network of activists. This is the first time that the award is being presented and it is being established by the board of Gay Exiles; Dr Antoine Spiteri (Chair), Mr David Simchik (President), Dr Matt Fiori (Board Member) and Mr Brian William Forst MFA (Board Member). Only one person each year will receive the award and recipients must show a demonstrable track record of service and commitment to the community.

The social group Gay Exiles was established in 2006, in response to the "gay exodus" that saw thousands of valuable Maltese citizens leave the country in search of nations where the legal system is more favourable to gays and their families. Many moved to Spain, Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, the United States, Canada, Mexico, South Africa and other countries that are working to promote an equal environment in which gays are not treated as second class citizens. Many people may not be aware that Maltese citizens are being denied the right to family life right here in Malta. While heterosexuals may bring their non-EU spouse to live with them in Malta, gays are denied that right. Gays in Malta are also denied the right of inheritance, same sex unions, parenting rights and the ability to make healthcare decisions on behalf of their partner in case of medical emergencies. We work to support the case for equality on the mainstream political agenda. Gay Exiles brings together supporters and the people who have had to leave their country for the sake of love and often to save their families.

EQUALITY FOR ALL is at the heart of Gay Exiles. We collaborate with private and public organizations with the aim to eradicate same sex discrimination and all forms of anti gay sentiment at an international level. Our use of the term "exile" refers to both voluntary and forced absence from our own country and/or a certain level of psychological distancing from an anti-LGBTIA culture. Gay Exiles are also individuals and couples whose freedom of movement continues to be highly restricted in many nations in the EU and USA based on their sexual orientation or because their marriage or civil partnerships in gay friendly nations are not recognised by other nations. Supporters, now numbering in the thousands, include local and international personalities and celebrities, major world activists, scientists and psychologists, exiles and non exiles, straight and gay, brothers, mothers, fathers, sisters and friends.


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