Gareth Williams, a leading AIDS activist and voice for the rights of sexual minorities in Jamaica and the English-speaking Caribbean, is the recipient of the 2006 International Award for Action on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights. Stella, a Montréal-based support and information group organized by and for sex workers, is the recipient of the Canadian Award. Both are presented by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and Human Rights Watch.
Williams spearheads an emergency support program that provides material care and support for victims of homophobic violence. He also played a key role in encouraging community members to share their stories with researchers for the 2004 Human Rights Watch report, Hated to Death: Homophobia, Violence, and Jamaica’s HIV/AIDS Epidemic: (http://hrw.org/reports/2004/jamaica1104/).
Stella serves women, transvestites and transsexuals. The group maintains an ongoing presence in sex work venues, including streets, escort agencies, massage parlours and strip bars.
Until human rights are at the center of AIDS policy and program decision-making, we must continue to thank courageous and tireless advocates for human rights, whose bravery in the face of personal risk, benefits us all. To this end, in 2002, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and Human Rights Watch established the Awards for Action on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights to recognize excellence and long-term commitment to work that has a direct impact on HIV/AIDS and human rights issues. An award is presented annually to one Canadian and one international recipient. The 2006 Awards will be presented on September 28th in Gatineau, Quebec (www.aidslaw.ca/awards).