The Honourable Michael Kirby, distinguished guests, representatives and allies of the LGBTQI+ community. I am delighted that the Australian Embassy in Bangkok is hosting APCOM’s annual HERO awards ceremony tonight to recognize outstanding service to HIV response and the advancement of LGBTQI+ human rights in Asia and the Pacific.
I would like to acknowledge the important work of individuals and organisations here tonight, and their tireless efforts to advance tolerance, diversity, equality and social justice.
I commend APCOM’s extraordinary work and welcome Australia’s long partnership with it.
Australia is proud to advance the human rights and dignity of the LGBTQI+ community in our region. We are supporting global, regional and country responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We continue to advocate for an end to violence and discrimination against LGBTQI+ persons. And we are working to prevent violence, hate-speech and discrimination against any individual, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics.
I welcome recent progress on LGBTQI+ rights in our region, including in Australia—where in 2017 the Australian people overwhelmingly voted in favour of marriage equality. The outcome of the vote was a reflection of the Australian people. It made such a strong statement that we belong, and that Australia embraces equality, fairness and inclusion.
As we celebrate 70 years of diplomatic relations between Australia and Thailand, I also wish to acknowledge the Thai Government’s ongoing efforts towards equality, and its work to enhance access to HIV testing and treatment as it pursues a goal of no new HIV infections by 2030.
I congratulate all of the nominees for tonight’s awards. We admire your strength, courage and humanity, and recognise all of your efforts to create change in your communities—including by inspiring others to do the same.
I wish you every success tonight and as you continue your efforts to support the LGBTQI+ community. I look forward to hearing about tonight’s winners and their inspiring stories, and hope you enjoy the chance to celebrate together during Bangkok Pride.