Tolerantia Award 2013 in Warsaw
This year’s Tolerantia Award ceremony was held in Warsaw on 14 September. The European awards honoured people and organisations in Germany, France and Poland for their outstanding work against homophobia and hate violence, and to promote social tolerance and diversity.
The organisations taking part in the annual Germano-Franco-Polish community prize include SOS Homophobie (France), Lambda Warschau and KPH – Kampania Przeciw Homofobii (Poland) and MANEO (Germany). These organisations work together to combat social exclusion as well as violence against LSBT* people, at the same time promoting diversity and tolerance, both in their own countries and in Europe. They co-operate with each other and provide mutual support. The foundation for this alliance is the Tolerancja Declaration, which all parties have signed. Since 2006, the European prize has been awarded since 2006 to exceptional people and projects in recognition of their exemplary work and achievements. This year’s recipients were the lawyer Maria Sabine Augstein (Germany), the journalist Ewa Siedlecka (Poland) and the daily television programme Le Petit Journal, hosted by Yann Barthès (France).
Maria Sabine Augstein
Maria Sabine Augstein, born 1949, has been a barrister since 1979 and to date won eight cases in the ‘Bundesverfassungsgericht’ (Federal Constitutional Court). The Court has declared individual provisions from the Transsexual Law, which was passed in 1980, to be unconstitutional on five separate occasions. Ms Augstein fought for four of these decisions. In June 2012, in response to a constitutional complaint brought by Ms Augstein, the Federal Constitutional Court declared the disadvantaged position of registered civil partnerships compared to marriage in terms of family allowance provisions under civil service law to be unconstitutional. On 6 June 2013, the Federal Constitutional Court had to decide on Ms Augstein’s constitutional complaint, lodged in 2006, on equality under income tax law. The court ruled that unequal treatment on account of sexual orientation breached the principle of equality set out in the German Constitution. The decision put homosexual and heterosexual couples on an equal footing in tax law. Existing regulations on spousal joint tax declarations for married couples are being used for registered civil partnerships until new regulations are introduced. We are honouring Ms Augstein for her outstanding, long-term commitment to the equality of LGBT* people in our society, and to social acceptance and diversity.
Ms Augstein lives with her wife, the painter and photographer Inea Gukema-Augstein, in Tutzing. She is the eldest child of the German publisher Rudolf Augstein and his first wife Lore Ostermann.
Mrs Ewa Siedlecka
Ewa Siedlecka is a long-time journalist for Gazeta Wyborcza. A Dariusz Fikus Award laureate and a graduate of the School on Human Rights at the Helsinki Foundation of Human Rights. Her comments and articles often tackle the law and human and animal rights.
Ewa Siedlecka often writes about key events regarding LGBT people. Her articles are frequently published on the main pages of the print and online versions of Gazeta Wyborcza and are heavily discussed. Her comments are factual and she always asks for opinions from the relevant parties, e.g. LGBT activists.
We are honouring Ewa Siedlecka for her courageous, objective, sensitive and factual presentation of the everyday lives of LGBT people, for being the advocate of LGBT rights in the Polish media, and for supporting LGBT community initiatives that help create tolerance and acceptance.
The Polish Tolerantia Prize is being awarded jointly by Stowarzyszenie Lambda Warszawa (The Lambda Warszawa Association) and Kampania Przeciw Homofonii (Campaign against Homophobia).
Le Petit Journal, a daily tv news show hosted by Yann Barthès
In 2012-2013, most TV news shows offered those people opposed to equal rights for LGBT people an opportunity to share their views, which is most welcome in a democratic debate. Sadly, however, many journalists failed to highlight the fact that a great deal of the information people were spreading on same-sex marriage was deliberately false or based on prejudice against LGBT people.
By contrast, Le Petit Journal always reported the truth about the content and consequences of the French law on same-sex marriage. It also revealed that most opponents – well-known or anonymous – were talking out of both sides of their mouths, i.e. claming to be tolerant but at the same time keen to spread hate and prejudice against LGBT people, which sometimes even ending in hate crimes. Throughout the year, Le Petit Journal played a key role in raising awareness of both equal rights issues and France’s deep-rooted homophobia.