Berlin 2022/2023

Berlin, Paris, Warschau, Belfast, Bern, 01.02.2024

For outstanding commitment:

The European Tolerantia Awards, conferred since 2006, are a joint German-French-Polish-Northern Irish-initiative founded by an alliance of nationally effective and recognised LGBTIQ+ anti-violence projects and partners in Europe. The alliance members stand up actively against discrimination, exclusion and hate vio- lence against LGBTIQ+ in their own country, across Europe and beyond; they work together and support each other.

The basis for this alliance is the Tolerancja Declaration. Mem- bers of the alliance include: MANEO (Germany), SOS-Hom- ophobie (France), the Rainbow Project (Northern Ireland) and the Circle of Friends, founded in 2023 by Polish activists, which has taken the place of the previous member Lambda Warszawa.

As an expression of this alliance and in recognition of exem- plary achievements, the Tolerantia Awards are conferred as a joint European prize to outstanding individuals and projects in Germany, France, Poland and Northern Ireland.

Individuals, institutions and groups are recognised for out-standing engagement that underscores democratic principles such as equality, solidarity, societal diversity and tolerance as well as dedication to countering homophobia, racism and all forms of group-based hatred in their own country, Europe and beyond. The Tolerantia Awards are conferred annually by the member organisations at an awards ceremony held in one of the capital cities. The events are organised exclusively by volunteers and funded through donations and sponsor- ing. For COVID-related reasons, an awards ceremony for 2022 could not be held. Consequently, we are honouring the award winners for 2022 at a joint ceremony together with the award winners for 2023.

We honor our laureates who will receice the Tolerantia Awards today on March 8, 2024 in Berlin.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Seyran Ateş

Seyran Ateş
(Tolerantia Award 2022)

Seyran Ates ̧ (born 1963) is a feminist and a lawyer; Berlin is her home. She first became involved politically at the age of 17 as the pupils’ representative at her high school (Paul-Hertz-Oberschule) in the Wedding district of Berlin. She subsequently transferred school to the Oberstufenzentrum Wirtschaft, Verwaltung und Recht to graduate with her high school diploma (Abitur) in 1983, enabling her to study law, her dream since early childhood. She left home at the age of 17, not easy for a young woman from a traditional Kurd- ish-Turkish family. Having visited many counselling centres at that time she noticed that young Turkish women from so- called “guest worker” families did not receive proper coun- selling and support in pursuing an independent life. That led her to become involved directly with the TIO (Treff- und Informationsort für Frauen aus der Türkei (Meeting and In- formation Centre for Women from Turkey)). She published her first political book Wo gehören wir hin? (Where do we belong?, 1983) at the age of 20, initially under a pseudonym. She became the victim of a political attack against the TIO in 1984, aged barely 21. A client died. Seyran Ates ̧ herself was seriously injured. The perpetrator was never identified, but is presumed to hail from Turkish far-right circles. The seriousness of the injuries Seyran Ates ̧ suffered meant that it took another six years before she could resume her law studies. However, during her recovery she remained active, involved, for example, with SOS Racism, in women’s groups, in the action group on Chernobyl, a tenants’ rights group (Berliner Mietergemeinschaft) and with squatter groups in the neighbourhood of Moabit. For a while, following the fall of the Berlin Wall, she lived as a squatter herself in the Licht- enberg district of Berlin. She completed her law studies in 1997 and then worked as a lawyer. She published her sec- ond book Große Reise ins Feuer (literally: Long journey into the fire) in 2003. Her publications include articles, speeches, screenplay contributions and six books in total.

SeyranAtes ̧has been an ardent campaigner ever since her youth for women’s rights, LGBTIQ+ and for human rights. “Everything that I have done was always a consequence of what happened previously.” As a lawyer, she has worked closely with victims of domestic violence, fought against forced marriage, child marriages, violence and murder “in the name of honour” and helped women to obtain a divorce, often refused to them in mosques. She began campaigning publicly in 2003 to have forced marriage included as a separate criminal offence in the German Criminal Code. This led her once again to experience extreme hostility. In 2006, she and her client were physically attacked on the street by her client’s husband. Seyran Ates ̧ closed her business for several months and handed back her certificate to practise as a lawyer. However, the following year 2007 she resumed her activities as a lawyer.

The attacks of 9/11 were a turning point for Seyran Ates ̧. Her inquiry into political Islam intensified. Coming from a liber- al environment, she considered it particularly important to examine more closely religious and theological controver- sies in Islam, not least in the practical interests of her clients. She was one of the founding members of the German Islam Conference in 2006 and forced to experience in this context how representatives of conservative Islamic associations mo- nopolised the interpretation of Islam, completely denying liberal Muslims a voice. And here of all places she was dis- credited too for being a lesbian and bisexual woman. From 2009, she was no longer invited to meetings, likely through pressure from Islamic associations. This was when she decid- ed to found a liberal mosque. Eight intensive years of self- study followed. She opened the Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque in 2017. Today it is a place whose congregation welcomes both women and LGBTIQ+ as equals. The founding of the mosque showed to all that a liberal Islam does exist, that it is actually practised and that freedom in belief is possible. Since 2020 the mosque has been the Contact Point for Is- lam and Diversity, a project which caused a great stir with its LGBTIQ+ campaign Love is halal and founder of the ed- ucational and social institute Mernissi-de Gouges Bildungs- und Sozialwerk in 2022. Seyran Ates ̧ has always stood up for interfaith dialogue. Together with others including Lala Süsskind, Ulrike Trautwein and Gülsen Cakal, she organised vigils held at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate in the years 2014 to 2016 under the motto: “No murders in the name of God – for human rights and against religious fanaticism”. Similarly, she has promoted acts of interdenominational worship held as part of LGBTIQ+ Pride celebrations.

The rainbow flag was raised at the Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque for the first time in 2022. Those present at the ceremony included Kai Wegner, now Governing Mayor of Berlin. The raising of the flag resulted in a shitstorm and hostility from Islamic fanatics throughout the world. But Seyran Ates ̧ re- mains steadfast.

We honour the commitment of Seyran Ates ̧ to human rights, and to the rights of women and LGBTIQ+ to autonomy and equality, and to freedom of belief.

Dr. Bertold Höcker

Dr. Bertold Höcker

(Foto: ©Martin Kirchner)
(Tolerantia Award 2023)

Dr. Bertold Höcker is a Protestant theologian, born 1958 in Kiel, the city where he was also raised. He had always wanted to become a pastor. But in those days this was impossible for a man who was openly homosexual. Instead he trained first to become an organ builder and worked for two years in that profession. He then studied church music, a course that was possible at the time without a high school diploma (Abitur). Living from his income as an organist, he went to night school, obtained his high school diploma, and starting learning Latin and Ancient Greek. This was fol- lowed by university studies in both theology and psychol- ogy. He successfully graduated in both subjects, obtaining his doctorate in theology in 1994. At the same time he was involved in the LGBTIQ+ scenes, and as a trainee pastor, in his early 30s, he managed the regional HIV/AIDS organisa- tion for Schleswig-Holstein, based in Kiel. He had to bury 30 young men within a year, all younger than him and all dy- ing an AIDS-related death. This period had a great impact on him. From Kiel he then moved to Cologne where he was pastor of an urban congregation (2002-2009). He regularly led church services to commemorate World Aids Day on 1 December and to celebrate Cologne Pride. The number of worshippers increased considerably from year to year – the church regularly overflowed and services had to be broad- cast to the congregation outside. He worked closely in this period with one of Cologne’s mayors, Elfi Scho-Antwerpen, and came to particularly value her tenacious commitment. He moved to Berlin in 2009 to become the Superintendent of the Church District Berlin Stadtmitte in the Protestant Church of Berlin-Brandenburg-schlesiche Oberlausitz.

Dr Bertold Höcker was convinced from an early age that his homosexuality was willed by God. He accepted the so- cietal disadvantages associated with his identity – without ever disowning that identity. Rather, that led him to devel- op a patient commitment to achieving equality. His studies brought him to examine formula from the Middle Ages for the blessing of same-sex couples – the earliest date from the 12th century, demonstrating always the tension between the Scriptures and cultural traditions. He is the author of many articles on this subject. In those days, blessings of that kind existed only for male couples. Nevertheless, they were not unimportant as they had legal consequences, for example, the duty to provide support extended to the partner‘s fam- ily too. Joint burials of the partners were also permitted. Armed with this historical knowledge, Dr Bertold Höcker soon became an active campaigner for the blessing of same- sex couples, before this was possible in church, and for the creation of spaces for LGBTIQ+ to access contact persons, share stories and find support. He also developed educa- tional and awareness-raising projects within the church and contributed to the acknowledgement of guilt issued by the Protestant Church of Berlin-Brandenburg-schlesische Ober- lausitz in 2021, which includes an apology for the persistent discrimination of LGBTIQ+ in the Protestant Church and a request for forgiveness.

Dr Bertold Höcker is an ardent supporter of interfaith dia- logue. He took up the idea of celebrating specific acts of worship to mark LGBTIQ+ Pride, held together with liberal Jews and Muslims since 2017. He actively pursued the coop- eration with the Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque and organised premises for this mosque in a Protestant church in Berlin‘s Moabit neighbourhood. He is also active on the board of the House of One initiative, in which the three monotheistic world religions are to find a shared space in the centre of Berlin, in a structure built on the foundations of Berlin’s old- est historical church. It will provide a common roof under which to strengthen tolerance, the potential of religions to be LGBTIQ+ friendly institutions and promoters of peace, and cooperation and coexistence in our societies. It was on the initiative of Dr Bertold Höcker that the Protestant Church of Berlin-Brandenburg-schlesiche Oberlausitz first took part in the Berlin Pride parade, with its own truck; it has now become a regular participant. And together with a small group from the Protestant Church Berlin Stadtmitte he created the cam- paign Liebe tut die Seele gut (love is good for the soul) – an initiative that has been keenly followed and widely copied.

Dr Bertold Höcker is active in many further initiatives, alli- ances and foundations, including the refugee church which provides assistance specifically also to LGBTIQ+ refugees, in the counselling service at the Berliner Dom (Berlin’s Prot- estant cathedral), in the Alliance for an Open and Tolerant Berlin, in the Constantia Foundation for Coexistence and Diversity and on advisory boards to preserve ecclesiastical cultural heritage.

We honour his commitment to tolerance and diversity, against hatred of LGBTIQ+ and hate violence, and to equality and peace in our society. We thank him for all his efforts so far.

Contact: Bastian Finke, Director of MANEO;
Mail: bastian.Finke [at] / home:

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Jérémy Clamy Edroux

Jérémy Clamy Edroux
(Tolerantia Award 2022)

Jérémy Clamy-Edroux (borne 1991) is a French rugby player in the France national rugby union team (Équipe de France de rugby à XV), playing as a propessional for CM Floirac in the Fédérale.

In June 2021, he came out in a documentary entitled “Faut qu’on parle”, broadcast on MyCanal.

He subsequently received encouragement from Mathieu Bastareaud, coach Nicolas Godignon, Serge Simon and Olivier Rouyer in front of the cameras of La chaîne L’Équipe. He talks about his experience in the media, and doesn’t ap- prove of Idrissa Gueye’s refusal to play in an LGBT-colored jersey as part of the International Day against LGBTIphobia.

We are honoring Jérémy Clamy Edroux for his outstanding commitment to combating LGBTIphobia in rugby with the Tolerantia Award 2022.

Sarah Brethes, Mathieu Magnaudeix und David Perrotin

Sarah Brethes,

Mathieu Magnaudeix,

David Perrotin
(Tolerantia Award 2023)

For their outstanding commitment we honor Sarah Brethes, Mathieu Magnaudeix and David Perrotin, for their doc- umentary “ Guet apens, des crimes invisibles “ (“Sneaky traps, the invisible crimes”, broadcast on Mediapart) and their commitment in fighting violence against LGBTI+ people.

The documentary is the fruit of several months’ investigation. It reveals the extent of a phenomenon that was thought to have disappeared: the traps, some of them deadly, that tar- get homosexuals and bi people on dating apps and sites.

The film demonstrates the persistence of homophobia and biphobia in France ten years after the legalization of marriage for same-sex couples. It also questions the way in which the police and the justice system respond to these attacks. The narrator of the film is Eddy de Pretto, a singer committed to combating violence against LGBTI+ people.

We thank Sarah Brethes, Mathieu Magnaudeix and David Perrotin for their eye-opening work and their commitment to combat LGBTI+ hostile violence. For this we are honoring them with the Tolerantia Awards 2023.

Contact: Joël Deumier, Copresident SOS homophobie Mail: bureau [at ] sos-homophobie. org

Kontact: Joël Deumier, Copresident SOS homophobie
Mail: org / home:

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Tomasz Baczkowski

Tomasz Baczkowski

(Tolerantia Awards 2022)

Tomasz Baczkowski (born 1972) has been an LGBTIQ+ activist since the 1990s and thanks to his ongoing commitment over many years has provided a major impetus for LGBTIQ+ equality in Poland and for changes in Polish society.

His involvement began on moving to Berlin in the 1990s. He studied business administration in Potsdam and economics in Wrocław. He followed this with architecture, the profession in which he has worked ever since. During his time in Berlin he learned of the work of Mann-O-Meter and MANEO and became actively involved in events such as Berlin Pride and the Lesbian and Gay Street Fair, still organised at the time by MANEO. He established contacts with Polish politicians including Piotr Gadzinowski, Cezary Stryjak und Joanna Sos- nowska who were invited by the Street Fair to visit Berlin in 1997. He organised talks, discussions and networking op- portunities for the politicians. Following a media campaign instigated by ultraconservative Polish politicians creating a public scandal over an official visit by parliamentarians to an LGBTIQ+ event, Tomasz Baczkowski organised a work- shop in December 1998 with German and Polish LGBTIQ+ activists and politicians at Radziejowice Castle close to War- saw. Speakers included the Polish Minister for Social Affairs, Jolanta Banach, and the Irish Senator, Professor David Nor- ris. Other Polish politicians to participate were Jerzy Urban and Tadeusz Iwiński. The meeting provided further signifi- cant impetus for the networking of LGBTIQ+ activists and politicians in Poland.

In 2001 Tomasz Baczkowski became one of the first mem- bers of the Kampania Przeciw Homofobii (Campaign Against Homophobia). His principal involvement was in the Parada Równos ́ci, a demonstration for tolerance and equality for LGBTIQ+, banned in 2004 by then mayor of Warsaw, Lech Kaczyn ́ ski, from the Law and Justice Party (PiS). He was the initiator and co-founder with partners including KPH and Lambda Warszawa of the Fundacja Równos ́ci (Equality Foun- dation). Between 2005 and 2010, Tomasz Baczkowski organ- ised Parada Równos ́ci (Europride). Under heavy police pro- tection this demonstration took place, in spite of a further ban issued by mayor Lech Kaczyn ́ ski and individual attacks by counter-demonstrators. To coincide with Pride Week Tomasz Baczkowski, together with Fundacja Równos ́ci, or- ganised international conferences held annually in Warsaw and the first LGBT film festival in Poland. Later this became in its own right one of the most important film festivals in eastern Europe. Together with the Polish National Museum, he organised the 2010 exhibition Ars Homo Erotica, which sustained major criticism, unsurprisingly, in particular from ultraconservative politicians including members of the PiS.

The case brought by ‘Tomas Baczkowski and Others’ to the European Court of Human Rights in 2006 attracted consider- able public attention. At issue was the ban on Parada Równ- os ́ci. The complainants had taken their legal challenge to the highest courts in Poland, which had repeatedly earned them considerable hostility from the country’s right-wing conservatives. Finally, they brought their case against the Polish State before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Giving judgment in 2007, the Court held that Poland and Lech Kaczyn ́ ski (former mayor of Warsaw and by this time Polish President) had acted in violation of Polish law and had infringed the European Convention on Human Rights in several aspects. This pioneering judgment estab- lished the legal precedent later used to condemn bans on demonstrations in Polish regions and even in Moscow and Belgrade.

Tomasz Baczkowski was a member of the board of EPOA (European Pride Organisers Association) for many years un- til 2018. In his spare time, he is an avid cook and baker. He won the title ‘best Polish baker’ in the 2018 season of the television show Bake Off shown on Polish State TV. Bees are his great passion – he has taken a university degree in bee- keeping and is a successful beekeeper.

Tomasz Baczkowski’s activism has always been as a volun- teer. We honour his outstanding commitment and support for LGBTIQ+ communities in Poland, his courage and his dedication to fighting hate and violence and for the basic values and principles of a democratic society, including the indivisible nature of human rights, equality and dignity of all persons, diversity, tolerance and solidarity. We honour him for this with the Tolerantia Award 2022.

Robert Biedron

Robert Biedron
(Tolerantia Awards 2023)

Robert Biedron ́ (born 1976) is a Polish politician and activist journalist. He stands for courage, innovation and the untiring struggle for human rights throughout the world. Robert Biedron ́ ‘s outstanding commitment in pursuit of these values has been groundbreaking for Polish politics, not least because he champions the lives of all those who are in a minority and often marginalised in the shadows of our society.

His involvement in defending LGBTIQ+ rights began in 1995 when he started to work in Mann-O-Meter in Berlin. What is more, his experience with the British organisation Out- Rage! brought even more to his life as a freedom fighter! Both experiences inspired him to campaign in Poland (and beyond) for LGBTIQ+ rights. After his return to Poland, he continued with his education, studying politics at the Uni- versity of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn and obtaining his master’s degree in 2003.

He joined Lambda Olsztyn (an LGBTIQ+ NGO) during his studies. These experiences motivated his further political involvement, marking the start of his political career. Robert Biedron ́ has been active in politics since 1998, working for the Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland (Socjaldemokrac- ja Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej) and then the Democratic Left Alliance (Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej – SLD) following a regrouping of political parties. Together with other Polish activists he founded the Campaign Against Homophobia (Kampania Przeciw Homofobii) in 2001 to channel his polit- ical efforts in this field. His book Tęczowy elementarz (The Rainbow ABC), an everyday guide to LGBTIQ+ issues, was published in 2007. His aim was to have this publication in- troduced as an additional secondary school subject. He con- tacted the Polish Education Ministry to promote tolerance in the education system. Unsurprisingly, his initiative met with major opposition from right-wing conservative circles.

His struggle for equality resulted in a historic success in 2011. That year Robert Biedron ́ became the first openly gay politician to be elected to the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish Parliament. It was a turning point, marking a shift in Polish politics.

Robert Biedron ́ also played a key role in the organisation of the first pride parades (Parada Równos ́ci) in Poland. These became an important symbol in the struggle for acceptance and equal rights for LGBTIQ+ people, generating and shift- ing awareness within Polish society.

A further milestone was achieved in 2014. Robert Biedron ́ was elected mayor of the city of Słupsk – the first openly gay mayor in Poland. He reformed and modernised the city ad- ministration, opening up the city to the people, and ensuring greater transparency, tolerance and community involvement. During his time in office, he became known internationally and celebrated as a beacon for progressive change in Poland.

In 2019, he founded the political party Wiosna (Spring), demonstrating the power of his vision and talents. Starting from scratch, the party, reflecting progressive values, achieved six per cent in the elections to the European Parliament, se- curing three mandates. As a Member of the European Parlia- ment Robert Biedron ́ actively advocates for equality, human rights, and protection of the environment. He is currently the Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Women‘s Rights and Gender Equality. He is also an active member of the European Parliament‘s LGBTI Intergroup. His work on the international stage is an essential contribution to strengthen- ing democratic principles, the rule of law and human rights – in Poland, in Europe and beyond.

Later, his party, Wiosna, joined forces with the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and Lewica Together in the elections to the Polish parliament in 2019, becoming the third political force in Poland. After the shift of power in 2023, the progressive alliance became part of the new Polish government, building a democratic and tolerant future for Poland.

We honour Robert Biedron ́ ‘s outstanding continued com- mitment to support LGBTIQ+ communities in Poland and in Europe, his courage and his dedication to fighting hate and violence and for the basic values and principles of a demo- cratic society, including at all times the indivisible nature of human rights, equality and dignity for all persons, diversity, tolerance and solidarity. We honour his constant advocacy for dialogue and understanding. We therefore honour Rob- ert Biedron ́ with the Tolerantia Award 2023.


Lambda Warszawa, board-member Krzysztof Kliszczyn ́ski, Mail: kkliszczynski [at]

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Northern Ireland

Cara McCann

Cara McCann
(Tolerantia Award 2022)

In her professional life Cara is the Director of HERe NI, an or- ganisation committed to the support of LGBTQIA+ women in Northern Ireland. In her time as Director she has grown the organisation and been resolute voice for women and trans inclusion.

As a long-time activist and campaigner Cara has also made a huge difference to the landscape for LGBTQIA+ people.

Cara and her now wife Amanda were the public face of the hugely successful campaign for same-sex marriage in North- ern Ireland, and the subsequent campaign to allow people to convert their civil partnerships to marriage, becoming one of the first couples to do so in late 2020.

She was also instrumental in securing the future of Belfast Pride, one of the largest pride events in the UK and Ireland, providing leadership at a crucial time for the organisation. Cara is from West Belfast and has a degree in Sociology and a Masters degree in Women and Gender Studies. Her main area of research is lesbian motherhood. Cara has many years experience in the community development field and has also taught Sociology, Social Policy and Gender studies at Queens University Belfast.

Annette Whelan

Annette Whelan
(Tolerantia Award 2023)

Annette has over 16 years’ information security expe- rience in the global finance sector. She has led LG- BTQIA+ Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) both lo- cally and globally and is a passionate advocate for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) within the workplace.

Outside of her day job, Annette is co-chair of the Working With Pride (WWP) network. WWP is a network of corporate Pride networks within Northern Ireland. WWP launched in July 2014 to help increase visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender staff within member organisations. WWP is a fully inclusive network for workplace LGBTQIA+ network leads and their allies.

The network operates on a volunteer basis and relies on the goodwill of member organisations to host events throughout the year. WWP has grown from an initial cohort of 5 founding member organisations in 2014 to 66 in 2024. From spear- heading the Businesses for Love Equality campaign which helped secure same sex marriage in Northern Ireland to rasing over £40k for LGBTQIA+ charities the network under Annette’s co-leadership continues to make a real difference.

Annette is also a Trustee for Belfast Pride. Belfast Pride Fes- tival is one of the biggest festivals in Northern Ireland with over 150 events across 10 days and one of the largest Pride events in the UK and Ireland.

Contact: Scott Cuthbertson, Director Mail: director [at ] rainbow-project. org , home:

● ● ● ● ● ●