About Hero Awards

Standing for HIV, Equality and Rights, the HERO Awards is an annual gala event in Bangkok which acknowledges outstanding HIV and LGBT advocates and allies from across Asia and the Pacific.

The HERO Awards also raises money for the HIV prevention and human rights work of APCOM, a leading Asia Pacific HIV and LGBT community network based in Bangkok.

This year HERO Awards will take place on Friday 26 November in Bangkok, the HERO Awards promises a fabulously fun evening of inspiration and celebration as community members and supporters pay tribute to the extraordinary contributions of individuals and organisations who have improved the lives of LGBT people and people affected by HIV throughout the Asia Pacific region. 

The HERO Awards is produced by APCOM and is generously supported by a range of community, corporate and diplomatic partners.

The first HERO Awards took place in 2017 to mark the 10th anniversary commemorations of APCOM.


2020 Award Recipients



2019 Award Recipients


Business Ally:

ANZ (Australia)

ANZ strives to build a culture of respect for all people and communities including LGBTIQ+ staff, customers and communities. Establishing an inclusive network for LGBTQI+ staff in 2007, ANZ remains a partner of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras as well as a member of the "Welcome Here" campaign.


Community Ally:

Jonggeol Lee (South Korea)

Jonggeol Lee is the general director of Chingusai - the Korean gay men's human rights organization that Jong-geul has been the Executive Director of. He is a proven leader in the LGBT community of South Korean for the last decade.  Recently he was the co-chairperson of Rainbow Action - the coalition of Korean LGBT organizations - to realize equality for gay men in Korea.


Community Hero:

Moon Ali (Pakistan)

Moon has worked for many years on programs in Pakistan that benefit transgender people. She is passionate about the improving the level of awareness about health for transgender people as well as enhancing their empowerment within the context of Pakistan.


Community Organisation:

Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan (Taiwan)

Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan was established only in November 2016 as a platform to advocate for marriage equality. The five organizations that form the coalition are: Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association, Taiwan LGBT Family Rights Advocacy, Awakening Foundation, The Lobby Alliance for LGBT Human Rights, and Gagaoolala. Taiwan legalised same-sex marriage in June this year becoming the first country in Asia to do so.


Health & Wellbeing Hero:

June Chua (Singapore)

June is one of Singapore's leading advocates for transgender inclusive services.  She has worked tirelessly for more than a decade to bring housing, basic information, health services and support to the Transgender community of Singapore.


HIV Hero:

Acep Saepudin (Indonesia)

Acep is a young gay Muslim Indonesian man living with HIV. He has documented his journey of living with HIV since his diagnosis in September last year, using this platform to raise awareness, debunk myths and part a very personal face on the HIV epidemic in Indonesia.


Social Justice Hero:

Menaka Guruswamy and Arundhati Katju (India)

Menaka and Arundhati were named as Time Magazine 100 Most Influential People list of 2019.  After more than a 100 year when same-sex relations were ruled as unnatural, the Supreme Court of India ruled in September 2018 that Section 377 of the Indian Constitution was unconstitutional. They were key women in the successful petitioning of the Indian Supreme Court to achieve this ruling.


Transgender Hero:

Rena Janamnuaysook (Thailand)

Rena is the face of the Tangerine Clinic in Bangkok, working tirelessly to improve the health and well-being of transgender people.


Young Achiever Award:

Doan Thanh Tung (Vietnam)

Tung is the Executive Director of Lighthouse Social Enterprise and Chair of Youth Voices Count.  A young HIV and LGBTQ activist he has been recognized for his work to establish LGBTQ-friendly health care services, both in Vietnam and internationally.


Shivananda Khan Award for Extraordinary Achievement:

Tuisina Ymania Brown (Samoa)

Tuisina is a long-term human rights defender. Originally from Samoa she holds Masters degrees in Law. Her volunteer work includes the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice (Board Member); the Global Interfaith Network on Sex, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (Co-Chair); and the International Trans Fund (Co-Chair)



2018 Award Recipients


HERO Awards Winners

Community Hero: Jean Chong (Singapore)

Jean has dedicated over 20 years to delivering outstanding LGBT advocacy in Singapore, across the Asia Pacific region and around the world.Jean Chong has been an LGBTQ activist for 20 years. She first started in her activism by volunteering with a gay Christian support network, Safehaven, and became their first female vice chairperson. Subsequently, she was a founding member of an inclusive church, Free (First Realize Everyone is Equal) Community Church and served as first their chairperson. Looking to expand her horizons in helping others, she went on to be a part of the core team of a LGBT federation, People Like Us in Singapore.  Soon after, Jean co-founded Sayoni in 2007, a queer women’s organization based in Singapore who organise, does research and advocate for equality in well-being and dignity regardless of SOGIESC. In 2011 and 2017, Jean led a team of representatives to CEDAW and as a result, for the first time in 2011 for the Asia Pacific region (and 2017), specific recommendations addressing the discrimination of LGTQ women were included as part of the concluding observations. Sayoni takes on an intersectional, feminist-centric and collaborative approach in nurturing and empowering LGBT persons while reinforcing their autonomy and self-determination. On the regional level, she is currently a part of the Steering Committee of the ASEAN SOGIE Caucus, a regional network of South East Asia LGBTIQ groups lobbying for the inclusion of LGBTIQ rights in the ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism. She also serves as the Asia Consultant for Astraea Lesbian Foundation and is currently a part of the Asia team of OutRight Action International.


Transgender Hero: Simran Shaikh(India)

Simran is an influential and high-profile transgender rights activist with over 20 years of service to improving the health and rights of transgender people in India.Simran, a Hijra (trans women) has dedicated her professional life to human rights advocacy. She has been a pioneer in India in raising the issues of people living with HIV (PLHIV) in the context of transgender and hijra communities. She is a strong advocate for right to health for all. Simran has developed the capacity of community-based organizations (CBOs) and networks that work for PLHIV and gender minorities. She has been a consultant to national and international organizations on issues of gender and sexual minorities living with HIV and intends to continue her work on health & human rights for the most marginalized communities in future. A graduate from Mumbai University currently pursuing her PHD in Trans Physiology, she currently works with India HIV/AIDS Alliance in New Delhi as a Project Lead for Wajood program, Amplify Change supported initiative strengthening Sexual Health of Trans community in five states. She is also the project lead for Prayas program, support by ViiV Health Care Foundation a research based intervention on awareness and preparedness of PrEP among transgender women in India. She is also the president of Impulse India (sister concern of AIDS Health Care Foundation) and is also leading a chamber of commerce for LGBTQI people in India.


HIV Hero: Nguyen Anh Phong (Vietnam)

Nguyen Anh Phong is an exceptional HIV activist and care provider with over 10 years of service to people with HIV in Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam. In 2012, Phong joined the people living with HIV Friendship Network of Southern Vietnam as a member of its executive board. Since then, he has devoted his life to helping the LGBT community and PLHIV, as a role model, activist and caregiver. His primary role is serving as the coordinator of the Southern Office for the Vietnam Network of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) (VNP+). In addition, he consults with PATH, FHI 360 and local government. He is also a counselor at Pasteur institute, in HCMC and an advocate for U=U. In the past, he has led many projects related to HIV together with the Global Fund and Care Vietnam. He has cultivated a strong network of key opinion leaders and stars in Vietnam, and strategically leverages them to bring more resources and focus to key areas of need. He has done this for the last three years through the nationally acclaimed Red Ribbon awards which he initiated, sourced funding for and organized. These events bring thousands of people together and results in thousands of dollars raised to assist struggling and vulnerable children and adults living with or affected by HIV. In 2017, he established My Home Clinic, a community-led pharmacy and medical center, dedicated to addressing HIV and STIs issues for PLHIV. The clinic provides access to high-quality services, rapid testing, HIV PrEP and PEP, screening and treatment of STIs, and counseling and adherence support.


Social Justice Hero: Ken Moala (Oceania)

Ken Moala is trailblazing advocate for LGBT health and rights with over 25 years of outstanding activism to advance the rights of LGBT people across Oceania. Originally from the Samoa Islands, Ken founded the Samoa AIDS Foundation in 2005. From this organisation a group for people living with HIV known as the Samoa Plus was formed. Ken co-founded the Pacific Sexual & Gender Diversity Network (PSGDN) in 2007 which is a Pacific region-wide network of organisations that represents the interests of the LGBTIQ Community of which he is currently Advisor. Ken was a founding elder of the Samoa Fa’afafine Association which advocates for Law Reform for the removal of archaic colonial laws impacting on the Fa’afafine and LGBTIQ Communities in Samoa. Ken is currently a Board member of the ILGA Oceania Board and a founding member for the Global Interfaith Network for LGBTIQ People of Faith. Ken is currently a board member of the Uniting Church Network of Australia (UNA)  for LGBTIQ people.


Health & Wellbeing Hero: Dr Yogi Prasetia (Indonesia)

Dr Yogi Prasetia has delivered over 10 years of outstanding clinical service and support to gay men, men who have sex with men and other people affected by HIV in Bali in Indonesia. Since 2010 he has headed up Bali Medika, a clinic for men who have sex with men in Bali. Prior to this position, he was a Medical Doctor with the SOS Clinic and Men Health Clinic Sanglah and a Medical Consultant for the It’s My Life Club and Proyekcinta websites for MSM in Indonesia. He has also been a consultant for the MSM programs run by Indonesia’s National AIDS Commission and East Timor’s Ministry of Health.


Community Ally Award: Surang Janyam (Thailand)

Surang has delivered over 15 years of outstanding service dedicated to improving the health and rights of female and male sex workers in Thailand, especially in relation to HIV. In 2004 Surang founded the Service Workers in Group Foundation (SWING), which is a registered non-governmental organization established in which aim to protect the rights of sex workers in Thailand. In Bangkok and Pattaya, SWING is providing community-led HIV services, life skills training and non-formal education as well as rights protection services for sex workers of all genders.  SWING was granted the Civil Society Partnerships Awards by PEPFAR in 2016. It has been also recognized by Global AIDS community as one organization significantly contributing to the successfulness in responding to HIV of Thailand and Bangkok.


Community Organisation Award: PT Foundation (Malaysia)

PT Foundation is a pioneering and internationally respected provider of care, support, education and advocacy for people affected by HIV in Malaysia.PT Foundation is committed to creating a Malaysia that is free of HIV and AIDS. It is the leading community-based organization in Malaysia working with key affected populations on HIV and AIDS, gender identity and sexual health. PT Foundation offers comprehensive awareness, prevention, support and care, and advocacy services, working with key affected populations such as sex workers, trans women, gay men and other men-who-have-sex-with-men, people who use drugs, refugees and people living with HIV.  Children of the key affected populations are also included in their services. Among the programs dedicated to the MSM population are the telephone counselling line, Internet Outreach, the Community Health Care Clinic and a treatment adherence and support program for MSM PLHIVs. Its international partners include the Global Fund, UNHCR, WHO, UNDP, APCOM, APCASO, amfAR and ViiV Healthcare. Local partners are the Ministry of Health, Malaysian AIDS Council, MAGIC, UPS and MAC Cosmetic.


Young Achiever Award: Justin Francis Bionat (Philippines):

Justin Francis is an outstanding LGBT activist with contributions to LGBT pride and visibility in the Philippines and across the Asia Pacific region.Justin Francis is a proud FIlipino by birth and blood. He is currently the project officer of Youth Voices Count, a network focused on young key affected populations and other sexual and gender minorities. He is also the LGBTQ representative of the United Nations Youth Advisory Board (UNYAB) Philippines. He is a fellow of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum. He is currently taking up his Masters in Human Rights and Democratisation at Mahidol University, Thailand. However, he is most proud of being one of the founders of the Iloilo Pride Team, a local community based organization in Iloilo City, Philippines. This organization is instrumental in organizing the yearly pride march and ensuring that grassroots organizing is given priority.


Shivananda Khan Award for Extraordinary Achievement: Taiga Ishikawa(Japan):

For 20 years of groundbreaking activism in Japan and across Asia, Mr Ishikawa became one of the first openly gay male politicians in Japanese history when he was elected as a Toshima ward city assembly member in Tokyo in 2011 and was the first openly gay candidate for leadership of a parliamentary party when he contested the chairmanship of the Social Democratic Party in 2013. He has campaigned tirelessly over many years for LGBT rights, achieving many successes such as allowing Japanese citizens to marry foreign nationals of the same sex in countries where same-sex marriage is legal. In 2004 he also founded Peer Friends, an organisation which helps reduce social isolation among young LGBT people in Japan. He also skillfully uses media and public events throughout the Asia Pacific region to focus attention on the need for LGBT law reform in Japan and throughout the Asia Pacific region.


2017 Award Recipients

Community Hero: Chi Chia-wei (Taiwan)- For over 30 years of service as a fearless and steadfast crusader for LGBT rights in Taiwan, including decades of work to help deliver this year’s historic ruling by Taiwan’s constitutional court in favour of marriage equality.

Transgender Hero: Khartini Slamah (Malaysia) - For over 30 years of service as an outstanding defender of transgender human rights and as a dedicated HIV advocate at the national, regional and International levels, especially in relation to transgender and sex worker communities.

HIV Hero: Gautam Yadav (India) - For the exceptional energy and commitment he has brought to his vocation as an HIV activist and inspirational role model for young people with HIV in India.

Social Justice: Qasim Iqbal (Pakistan) - For his trailblazing advocacy for LGBT health and rights in Pakistan and for his significant contribution to the health and wellbeing of LGBT people and people with HIV as founder of the national NAZ network of LGBT community based organisations.

Health & Wellbeing: Dr Frits van Griensven (Thailand) - For his outstanding work as an HIV researcher and community health advocate with significant contributions made to mapping the HIV epidemic across SE Asia.

Community Ally: Prof Praphan Panupak (Thailand) - For his exceptional work as an HIV researcher, founder and longtime director of Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Centre, and committed advocate for people and communities affected by HIV (recognised as a supporter rather than member of the LGBT or HIV+ communities).

Community Organisation: Bandhu Social Welfare Society (Bangladesh) - For outstanding work as an internationally respected provider of HIV programs, sexual health services and human rights advocacy for LGBT people and communities throughout Bangladesh.

Shivananda Khan Award for Extraordinary Achievement: Ashok Row Kavi (India) - Mr Row Kavi has spent over 40 years as a leading advocate for LGBT people and communities in India where he was a trailblazing activist during the 1970s, 80s and 90s, using his professional experience as a journalist to successfully foster India’s LGBT movement. He then went on to found and head up the Humsafar Trust, one of India’s leading HIV organisations dedicated to addressing the epidemic among vulnerable and marginalized communities. He has also played a key role in helping shape the Asia Pacific response to HIV and LGBT health/rights through significant contributions to many important regional dialogues and strategic initiatives.