Global Equality Community Unites to Celebrate Equal Rights Activists on Thursday July 16

by | Jul 15, 2015

Equality and human rights advocates from around the world will celebrate equal rights this Thursday as former anti-apartheid lawyer, Professor Sir Bob Hepple QC, presents activists with the inaugural Bob Hepple Equality Award.

The award, established by the Equal Rights Trust, honours activists who have made outstanding contributions to equality over a significant number of years.

“Equal rights activists around the world face a continual struggle, meet with danger, setbacks and a fight against deeply embedded attitudes and archaic law and policy,” said Sir Bob Hepple, Honorary President of the Trust.

He continued “The establishment of this award at this time is highly opportune, it not only gives due credit to the winners but it sheds light on their cause so that we, the equality community, can stand in solidarity and strengthen support to their work.”

For its first year, the award will be presented to dual winners, Pragna Patel, Director of the Southall Black Sisters and Mauro Cabral, co-Director of the Global Action for Trans Equality.

Pragna Patel has played a major part in advancing black and Asian feminism in the UK through Southall Black Sisters, a group which has campaigned and offered practical support for women escaping domestic violence and forced marriages. Among its milestones, the organisation led a successful campaign to change immigration rules which trapped women of non-British origin in abusive marriages.

Mauro Cabral has played an invaluable role in asserting the dignity and rights of trans and intersex persons, particularly in Latin America, over the last 20 years. In 2012 he played a crucial role in seeing the enactment of Argentina’s Gender Identity Law. Most recently, he helped reform the World Health Organization’s diseases classification which had categorised trans and intersex persons as having mental and behavioural disorders.

“We are delighted that this inaugural award will celebrate two activists who have different equality focuses, located in different parts of the world, but are united by one commonality – their enduring commitment to enhance equality among their contrasting communities,” said Dr Dimitrina Petrova, Executive Director of the Trust.

On Thursday, Sir Bob Hepple will elaborate on the full achievements of Cabral and Pragna, and during their acceptance speeches they will give an overview on the evolution of their equality movements, their motivations and challenges. The event will also hear from Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, and Dimitrina Petrova who will talk on liberty and equality in the UK and worldwide.

For further details, to attend the event and for interviews please contact: or 07732 819 400.

The Inaugural Award Ceremony: The ceremony will take place at Reed Smith Law Firm, Broadgate Tower, 20 Primrose Street, EC2A 2RS from 6.30 – 7.45pm on Thursday 16 July and will be followed by a buffet dinner and drinks.

Equal Rights Trust: The Trust is an independent international organisation combating discrimination and advancing equality worldwide. It promotes a unified human rights framework on equality, focusing on the complex relationships between different types of disadvantage and developing strategies for translating the principles of equality into practice. The Trust currently works in over 40 countries, pursuing its objectives through advocacy, litigation, development of resources, and movement building.

The Bob Hepple Equality Award: The award has been established in the name of Sir Bob Hepple, internationally recognised expert in the fields of labour, equality and human rights law, who served as Chair of the Trust for six years and now sits as Honorary President. For its consecutive years, the award will be presented to an equal rights activist from a selected equality discipline to increase support to their cause.

Selected Achievements of Pragna Patel: As founding member and current Director of Southall Black Sisters (SBS), Patel was heavily involved in one of the group’s most notable cases concerning Kiranjit Ahluwalia, who was imprisoned for murdering her violent husband in 1989.  Alongside the legal campaign, SBS mobilised public opinion in its direct communities and then nationwide through public meetings, pickets, demos and the media – all of which led to Kiranjit becoming a household name throughout the UK.

In 2014, the organisation successfully campaigned against advice given by the Law Society to solicitors to respect sharia law. Following the group’s advocacy, the Society withdrew its practice note on sharia wills which had been declared unlawful for promoting an interpretation of sharia that was discriminatory on the grounds of gender, religion and ethnicity.

Selected Achievements of Mauro Cabral: Cabral was at the centre of the elaboration of the Yogyakarta Principles adopted in 2007 which relate to sexual orientation and gender identity and affirm binding international legal standards to which all states must comply.

In 2012 he played a crucial role in the process leading to the implementation of Argentina’s Gender Identity Law. This Law has been extensively cited in court decisions on gender identity cases, such as Indian Supreme Court decisions, and has inspired legislation reform in countries including Malta, Holland and Sweden.


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