Bonham Centre Awards Gala 2018
Date: April 19th, 2017
Time: 6pm – 9pm
Location: Hart House – Great Hall, University of Toronto (7 Hart House Circle)
The Bonham Centre Awards were established in 2008 to recognize an individual or group that has made a significant contribution to the advancement of and education about sexual diversity. Past recipients include authors Edmund White, Patricia Nell-Warren, and Shyam Selvadurai; Dan Savage; HIV-AIDs crusader Stephen Lewis; LGBT rights activist and Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black; CBC Executive Vice President Heather Conway; Out and Equal founder and CEO Selisse Barry; Degrassi television series co-creator Linda Schuyler; lawyer Barbara Findlay; Olympians Mark Tewksbury, Greg Louganis and Marnie McBean; and First Nations Artist Kent Monkman.
This year, the awards will focus on Queer Refugee advocacy, made possible by the generous sponsorship from RBC. Our Bonham Centre Award recipients this year are Karlene Williams Clarke, Rainbow Railroad, Danny Ramadan and Mr. Vitit Muntarbhorn.
Karlene Williams-Clarke is currently the Manager, Direct Services at The 519. In her capacity as Manager, Karlene provides leadership and support to the direct services programs. She has worked with The 519 for the past 7 years and previously served as Coordinator, LGBTQ Newcomer Community Services. Karlene is an international LGBTQ advocate and comes with over 15 years of experience in social justice activism. She served for several years as co-chair of Jamaica Forum for Lesbians and Gays (JFLAG) and chair of the then lesbian and bi-sexual women’s group Women for Women (WfW) in Jamaica. Although Karlene is professionally trained in Business Administration and worked for several years in the financial industry, after moving to Canada, she decided to put that experience aside to follow her passion and work with the LGBTQ newcomer community. Karlene is also a member of the Board of Directors of Rainbow Railroad, a not-for-profit organization which assists LGBTQ+ people around the world facing persecution based on their sexual orientation, to escape to a place/country of safety. Karlene is also the 2013 Pioneers for Change – LGBTQ Initiative honouree.
Rainbow Railroad (Executive Director: Kimahli Powell)
Rainbow Railroad has been successful in helping individuals from the Caribbean, Africa and Middle East where we have local networks to support and validate cases. At any given time, Rainbow Railroad is working on 30-50 open cases, confirming their details, putting them in touch with local resources and helping them identify safe routes for escape. Executive Director of Rainbow Railroad Kimahli Powell, has a wide range of experience in the non-profit sector and has spent more than fifteen years advocating for social justice, youth, arts and culture. He was the Director of Development and Outreach at the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, the Senior Development Officer at Dignitas International, Director of Development at the Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film and Video Festival in addition to holding other director-level positions with non- profit organizations in Toronto and the National Capital Region.
Danny Ramadan is a Syrian-Canadian author, public speaker, storyteller and an LGBTQ-refugee activist. His English debut novel, The Clothesline Swing, continues to receive raving reviews; it was longlisted for Canada Reads, and shortlisted for the Evergreen Award. As an LGBTQ activist, he has been involved in coordinating online and on the ground efforts to support Queer and Trans identifying refugees from Syria to immigrate to Canada. Danny volunteers with Rainbow Refugee Society supporting their work in creating Private Sponsorship Groups to bring LGBTQ-identifying refugees from Syria to his new home in Canada. He also runs the annual fundraiser An Evening in Damascus to support those efforts. Since May 2015, he has raised over $100.000 to support a total of eight other LGBTQ-identifying Syrian refugees. He was picked as the Grand Marshal for the Vancouver Gay Pride Parade 2016 to celebrate those efforts. Danny was awarded the StandOut Award for his social activism as well as the Top Immigrant in Canada Award.
Vitit Muntarbhorn is a Professor Emeritus at the Faculty of Law, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand; he is an international law and human rights expert. He graduated from Oxford University, United Kingdom (M.A.; B.C.L.) and from the Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium (Licence Speciale en Droit Europeen). He is also a Barrister-at-Law from the Middle Temple, London. He started teaching at the Faculty of Law, Chulalongkorn University in 1978. For nearly 40 years, he has taught Public International Law, Human Rights Law, Seminar on International Law, Child Rights Law, and several other subjects in Thailand and abroad, including in France, Canada, United Kingdom, Japan and South Korea.
Apart from his teaching at the Faculty of Law above, he has helped a number of organizations domestically and internationally in various positions. He has served in several capacities as a pro bono United Nations (UN) expert, such as the first UN Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (1990 – 1994), the first UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) (2004 – 2010), Chairman of the (UN) Commission of Inquiry on the Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) (2011), Member of the (UN) Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic (2012 – 2016), and the first UN Independent Expert on Protection Against Violence and Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (2016 – 2017). For a period of time, he was also a member of an Advisory Panel of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Geneva, a member of the Advisory Board of the UN Fund for Technical Cooperation on Human Rights, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva, and a member of the Advisory Board of the UN Human Security Fund, New York. He is currently a Member of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Recommendations and Conventions, International Labor Organization, Geneva. He also helps various government agencies, non-governmental organizations and other members of civil society in capacity building, such as in research, monitoring, educational and training activities.
He has published widely nationally and internationally. His books include: The Status of Refugees in Asia(Oxford: Clarenden Press, 1992) and Unity in Connectivity ? Evolving Human Rights Mechanisms in the ASEAN Region (Leiden/Boston: Nijhoff Publishers, 2013). His latest book is The Core Human Rights Treaties and Thailand (Leiden/Boston: Nijhoff Publishers, 2016). He has written over 20 reports for the UN, and several hundred articles and other publications on international law, human rights, humanitarian law, and law and development. He is an occasional columnist of the Bangkok Post newspaper. He has delivered addresses in many parts of the globe, including at the UN General Assembly, the UN Human Rights Council and other fora. He is the recipient of several awards, including the 2004 UNESCO Human Rights Education Prize, and the Honorary Human Rights Prize from the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand.